Deciding when to expand business overseas and go global is a bit daunting for startups and small businesses alike. International trade is important for growing your business, and you may be sorely tempted by the opportunities you can see in hot markets like the USA or China. But there are also risks involved in venturing abroad before you’re fully prepared.
This collection of tips to expand business overseas will help you tackle the unique challenges that each of your foreign markets poses, and avoid the pitfalls that await you in these faraway lands across oceans and continents.
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It’s customary to do detailed market research and study the competition before entering a new market. You can get all the export market reports and other help you need on the indiantradeportal.in portal. But don’t limit your research to the existing market and competition. Study companies that tried to enter that market and failed. Learn from their mistakes, instead of making expensive mistakes of your own.
For example, Indian tech startups looking to enter the Chinese market may learn a thing or two from the way that Google, Apple, Facebook and other tech giants have had to modify their market entry process for China.
It might be a good idea to do some business online in each market you want to expand to, before you actually hop on a plane or set up a local office. Doing it online, through your website, email and/or ecommerce portals ensures that you don’t spend a huge amount of resources learning how to get leads and paying customers in a new market. Once you have a foothold and a decent customer base through such online sales, you can expand business overseas physically through in-person visits, new office locations and locally hired employees, marketing campaigns, etc.
Starting, running and growing a business in foreign lands is always harder for you than for the locals. Find local mentors, partners and/or investors who can guide you and make sure that you aren’t making any mistakes, while you are still trying to understand local consumers and the culture. You can even use social media like LinkedIn or Facebook to connect with such mentors, partners and investors in each of your overseas markets.
Leverage the fact that Indian expats in a small community abroad want to connect with new people from back home. Building these connections not only helps in starting a new business, but also provides the support you need to get things done faster and at the right cost.
Knowing the local language is an obvious but often ignored requirement for expanding business overseas. No customer or potential business partner wants to be associated with someone who can’t speak their language properly. Besides taking classes, you can also learn the language through apps and online dictionaries and learning tools, or just spend time with the locals listening to the way they pronounce words.
You can’t assume that the legal framework for doing business in your domestic market applies worldwide. Yamaguchi, a partner at the international law firm Withers Bergman LLP, says one of the biggest mistakes she sees American entrepreneurs make is assuming they’ll have the same intellectual property protections in other nations as they do at home.
For example, she says, U.S. companies often enter into IP transfer and assignment arrangements with employees, so the organization owns any intellectual property that is developed. But not so in Germany, where a tech company needs to separately compensate employees beyond their salary to own intellectual property created on company time with company resources.
Don’t attempt to handle it by yourself. You need advisors who understand both local and your home country’s laws. Such legal counsel can be tough to find, unless you can afford international law and accounting firms. If you are not able to find or afford international law experts, check with the local government’s business development unit, and also business incubators and accelerators. Many of them provide this business support by connecting new companies to the support services they need to get started.
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