Have you ever thought about expanding your business globally? Well, maybe it’s time you have. In today’s highly competitive business world, global expansion has become a vital part of an organization’s growth strategy. In this post, we put together the best ‘going global tips’ from some of the top experts in our international business network.
Many people who are looking at expanding their business globally have the same first overwhelmed response, “Where am I going to start, what steps do I need to take?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We asked over 25 experts in the field the same question:
Taking into account all your experience and knowledge, what would be the #1 tip you would give to someone looking at going global with their business?
Below you will find their insight into going global. Their great advice speaks for itself and we hope you find a solution to at least a few of your unanswered questions in their wisdom.
We’ll let the experts take it from here:
Identify a global immigration partner that understands your goals for going global with your business. Look for much more than simply a vendor or supplier. You and your business need an experienced partner that will be an extension of your internal mobility group to successfully meet and exceed shared objectives.
Find a strong leader that will act as the boots on the ground for this expansion. Often times companies attempt to expand globally centrally driven solely by HQ and this results in a lack of oversight or a misunderstanding of cultural differences thus resulting in a less than ideal expansion. In addition to this, if management at HQ has global expansion added to their plate it can take away from their current responsibilities and goals which result in a being ‘spread too thin’ outcome.
Engage Velocity Global. Doing this will save your Company not only money but more importantly time, across many departments & I promise you, will reduce the stress levels.
Having hired globally for various companies, my only regret is that I did not know about Velocity Global years ago.
Be prepared to face greater bureaucracy, red tape and longer lead times than you experience in the US, when dealing with establishing programs and human resource policies that must comply with local regulations.
When going global it is essential to have a strong understanding of the local market and culture. This understanding should be informed by insight from a diverse group of local stakeholders and trusted advisors.
Realize that as soon as your business is online, you are a global company. It’s up to you to be intentional and have an action plan to optimize that opportunity. Having the right partners, products, and business processes make it much easier to succeed.
Apply the best parts about agile development and the sharing economy to your international expansion efforts.
My best advice is that entering a mature market in another country with a “me-too” product is very difficult and often disastrous. Local customers already have established relationships with their suppliers. If you can’t differentiate your product or service vs. the local suppliers, you will end up competing on price, making your new entry very, very expensive.
Choose your local channel partners wisely—your superior product gives your strong bargaining power in recruiting top talent and structuring profitable relationships
Identify people you trust, those who are experts in global matters that are unfamiliar to you and who are willing to act as advisors to help with the expansion. Others have learned a lot along the way and you can greatly benefit from their experience.
The top tip I would offer to someone looking to expand their business globally is to ensure you have the right people in place and a bit of patience. Setting up in other countries requires learning not only the business customs, but the culture as well. It is important to not take anything for granted – even when speaking the “same” language, different terms and phrases can have vastly different meanings in different locations.
One of the most important considerations for businesses looking to establish an international presence with employees is help with local employment law. Employment law varies considerably from country to country and is often much different than in the U.S. Having a business partner that understands and can help navigate local employment practices is extremely important to a successful international launch. Look for business partners that have an in-country presence and understand both the culture and legal considerations.
If you are thinking about going global with your business, hire terrific service providers to help you through the process and visit countries to understand personally the challenges and benefits of doing business in the location.
It’s important to put a plan together in stages. Each stage (or market, if that’s easier to imagine) should have its own, unique strategy and a goals-based progression to the next stage.
Don’t cut corners. Trying to do things on your own, on a small budget typically leads to failure even when success is in your grasp. Use the right attorneys and accountants that have experience in the country(s) that you are interested in, use consultants that specialize in that area and put boots on the ground to go knock on doors and create businesses.
CEO at FDI Strategies, LLC
Take a people-first approach. Go find the talent and the revenue will follow.
It will take you more time and investment than you anticipate. Local laws, culture, ways of working, practices, infrastructure, labor capacity and other host country realities can be very different, which requires that our pre-launch planning context and assumptions must be validated before an effective plan can be finalized.
“Understand legal issues in new countries is the most important point before going global with your business. You have to foresee the challenges on dealing with legal and commercial practices in different countries.”
“Know why you are going global. It’s best to go global because you are filling a need in that country; not to achieve economies of scale or cut costs. The obstacles faced in international expansion are much more easily overcome when there is demonstrable demand for your product or service in your host country.”
Taking a company global is a necessity today because the world markets are the engine of growth for most firms. But, companies need to know how these global markets work since each country has its own sets of rules, regulations, business and social conducts. I believe this is a major task which few companies can master all by themselves. Getting expert advice in different business fields when embarking on such a decision is very important. At CollabNet we outsource many of these tasks to professional firms such as Velocity Global (HR & Benefits).
It is important to build bridges between your company and the market; a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy in the market, including both major and minor players and experts that understand your business, is an effective and critical tool to prevent misinterpretation and achieve success. Also, patience and flexibility are invaluable: projects won’t go the way you expect, and you have to be ready to adjust your strategy.
Founders of Inle Advisory Group
When going global, one must recognize that a deal’s total set of risk elements is likely broader than that encountered in domestic work. Different and perhaps broader risks include cultural, social, legal, financial, tax, medical, safety, security, warranties/guarantees, needs for agents, etc. You’ll uncover other hurdles as you go forth, but spending the time to define the total risk profile in advance, and to the extent you can, is well worth the investment, and should likely include professional consultants and specialist global business entities.
Take advantage of outsourcing in every function that is not core to your product or service. If you are entering a new country for the first time, it just makes perfect sense to minimize your investment in infrastructure while maximizing your opportunity to tap into the high level of local knowledge and expertise that outsourcers can provide. With the explosion of globalization in the last several years, there are now so many expert firms across all corporate functions, including legal registration, accounting, payroll, employment, recruiting, translation of legal docs, product and packaging localization – the list of specialist available to help you is endless. If you are attacking several new markets at once, seek partners who provide multi-country outsourcing to keep your number of suppliers and contracts to a manageable minimum.
The number one tip on going global is to find an experienced partner that you trust and has done that work before. You will get varying advice from accounting, tax, legal, international and domestic professionals, but finding someone who has lived and been through the trials and tribulations of hiring employees is key to successful global business.
Make sure that the people who are responsible for “going global” have been global themselves, preferably with several years of international work experience and have lived abroad.
When companies are planning their international expansion plans, LatAm represents an excellent buying opportunity with the strong US Dollar. Companies in LatAm are looking for international partners/investors to help them grow their businesses both domestically and internationally. Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Chile represent some real buying opportunities.
Take the time to understand how to operate in a new region by engaging local expertise. There are a number of things to consider, but from a People perspective, understanding local regulations and the pros & cons of working in a region (ie taxes advantages/disadvantages, employer required benefit contributions, employee rights (in hiring and firing)) would be our key areas of focus when exploring global expansion.
A very special thank you to every one of the professionals who helped contribute their great going global tips to this post. Their high level of skill and experience shined through their words of wisdom.
Now that you have insight from top experts on their top tips for going global don’t forget to download the eBook “The Ultimate Guide to Global Expansion” for even more insight into modern global expansion strategy and your options.