Is Your Business Ready to Go International?

You’ve worked hard to build your business; it’s been a few years since you’ve started. You’re really starting to gear up, build a reputation and start seeing some success. The next step is…expansion? How can you determine whether or not your business is ready to serve international clients? Here are some tips to know if your business is ready to open up an office in another country.

It’s encouraging to know that nearly 97 percent of U.S. exporters are small businesses, says the U.S. Census Bureau. But taking the next step overseas is a big plunge indeed. Are you ready?

First, take a look at your bottom line. Do you have the resources, capital, staff and reputation to take your company global? Next, decide how you will export your products and to which countries exactly. This takes a lot of research, so be sure to look into success or failure stories of businesses similar to yours that have attempted to do the same. Look at your target audience, determine what the need is overseas, and determine if you can meet those needs or if you’ll just be contributing to oversaturation of the market.

Next, know the exporting business inside and out. The #1 barrier to many companies going global is that their products aren’t exactly exportable. Make sure there is a demand for your products, and then learn all you can about the export business. Familiarize yourself with payment, regulation and trade issues that can get in the way of doing smooth business.

Third, know your timeline and have realistic expectations of when it can all happen. Nearly half of all businesses say it took a few weeks to start the exporting process. About 25 percent say it took many months, and the rest say it took a year or more. Factor this into your timeline and budget. Expect delays and realize that nothing happens overnight.

Fourth, clarify why you would be a good candidate for exporting. It’s a no-brainer that your motivation is to increase your sales and profits, but what will push you to achieve your goals? This could be the desire to expand your customer base or extend your reach to a diverse market.

Ask yourself some important questions: How do you plan to grow in times of economic downturn? Do you have the robust staff, financial capital and product quality to weather any storm? Is your staff fluent in the language of your destination country/countries? The ability to speak another language is certainly a huge advantage here.

To expand on this last point and diversify your staff’s bilingual abilities, explore our Business language learning courses to learn more.