Once upon a time, it seemed like a notion light-years away from becoming a reality, but your small business is finally ready to make its first step outside your national borders. You are about to take on the challenge of building your own Roman Empire, if you will. And for that, you need resolve, patience and exceptional business expertise, in order to succeed in the ever-growing competitive atmosphere of the world.
Before you make your transition official, you should take into consideration several essential aspects of your business that will determine whether you will be able to meet the global market’s needs and stay relevant on what will soon become a borderless scale.
Think locally, act globally
You might be used to focusing on expanding your business one city at a time, but when it comes to moving beyond your cultural comfort zone, you need to retain the same frame of mind in order to access the essence of global. Every single country and territory is made up of unique and authentic characteristics, and their peoples have different preferences, so going global in a way means that you will go local one country at a time until you actually gain a worldwide presence.
Each society has its norms, their customs, traditions, language and core values may be entirely different from what you are used to seeing in your own home country, and your brand needs to be ready for the culture shock you’re about to experience. Every solid international strategy needs in-depth research conducted beforehand, to identify and incorporate the most important cultural differences that will make or break your endeavor.
Adapt your language
A major segment of your globalization efforts will revolve around fine-tuning your language for a wider audience, and preferably, in their own native tongues. This is where your understanding of a country comes into play, since no decent brand copy, including your product presentation, online or offline, can be created without considering the language finesses of each territory.
As true as it may be that English has become the go-to global language for all companies, you should remember that it’s one thing to vaguely understand the basic concepts of what your company does, and a completely different problem to not get lost in translation and achieve the same emotional connection through the local community’s native language. Words make for a wonderful vessel for people to relate to your brand, and you cannot afford not to use it wisely.
Learn the legal ropes
Whether you plan to import your product, make it locally, or sell your services through agents dispersed all across the globe, your business has to comply with all the laws and regulations of each country in which you operate. Before you even begin the transition, learn what it takes, from paperwork to adapting your legal language and tone, to become a recognized legal entity in each country.
Your licenses, documentation and all paperwork should be in perfect order before you move your business overseas, and to do that, it would be wise to consult a professional legal counsel to stay a few steps ahead of the global game.
What is a company without its loyal employees, who are at the same time your brand’s most important ambassadors? They will be the pillars of your success, because no international endeavor can survive without a strong local foundation willing to put its heart, soul and expertise into the venture. And it’s your duty to create the drive and enthusiasm that will fuel your business and create that strong basis for expansion.
Depending on your business and available options, you can create the right company culture – from offering your employees share option plans and providing them with educational opportunities, cash incentives and more vacation time, to more flexible work hours, you have an endless list of choices to make this enormous effort worth their while.
Prep your budget
If you thought that funding and building a business from scratch was a hassle, think again. Branching out onto the world’s map means that you will need significant investments, which you will in all likelihood, underestimate to begin with. To prevent being flooded by costs you cannot cope with, you will need to define and continuously redefine your budget for this endeavor.
Take into account all the different tax laws, customs, legal expenses, import and export costs, hiring local people or sticking to a local operation that ships globally, etc. While you definitely need to brace yourself for losing money in the early stages of your growth, there’s no need to waste money if you can prevent unneeded expenses from day one.
Is your product ready?
Upon completing your research and analysis phase, and adapting your brand image and language to the local cultures, start implementing the results to your product or service. However, if you are already a business of many facets and have a wide selection of products to choose from, it’s not wise to go all out and immediately present your entire offer to the world.
Instead, adjust one product that you are certain will fill a market gap and be a good fit for a given territory, and launch it to test the waters. Once you see the initial reaction and how much trust your brand is establishing with the new audience, you can move on to expanding your product list to become available to the rest of the world.