Dreaming about world domination? Here’s how to expand your business overseas

expand business overseas

The Shanghai skyline.

Starting a business in your own country can be difficult enough, but establishing a company abroad brings another level of potential complications, stress and doubt.

With that being said, it is beneficial to be reminded that through all this, there is also an abundance of reward and elation too. Moving from the UK to Australia and opening a business was an incredibly bold move, but I honestly recommend any entrepreneur looking for a new challenge gives it a go.

From thorough preparation to remaining flexible, and being open to the highs and lows of the process, there are several fundamentals steps you should follow to ensure your expansion is successful.

Do your research

Before you even consider booking a plane ticket, do as much research as possible and have a plan in place. That’s not to say you need to overwhelm yourself with information, but it’s imperative you are across the basics — such as laws relating to business ownership, visas, banking and tax.

If you’re looking at moving straight into an office, shop or warehouse, you need to know exactly how you go about acquiring property as a foreigner, and the cost it will take to set yourself up.

If you are able to seek out advice from a lawyer, or even a local contact, this will put you in good stead to ensure no major issues arise.

In this early phase of research and planning, it is important not to impose a time limit. Spend time doing things properly rather than expecting your business to miraculously establish itself in an instant.

Understand your industry

Your business may be thriving at home, and while there is every possibility it can do the same overseas, it is important to know your market.

Ask yourself questions and do research into what is already on offer. Does a similar business already exist? If it does, what can you do differently and how can you set yourself apart? Do people in this particular country need what you’re offering? Can they afford it? Can your offering be adapted for an overseas market?

If you can understand the local industry, you’re absolutely set for success.

Adapt to local business customs

Just as you would respect the culture of another country while travelling for leisure, it is imperative to do the same when engaging in business overseas.

Starting out fresh means you need to gain the respect of your new peers, and to do that, you need to know how to operate like local. Embracing local business customs is as simple as observing body language, as well as both verbal and written communication.

If you can become friends with a local business contact, use them as your main resource. Become a sponge and absorb as much information as you can.

  • If the country speaks a language different to your own, should you attempt to use it as much as you can?
  • What is usual etiquette in business meetings?
  • Can you barter? If so, what is the protocol?
  • If you’re at a business lunch, are there any specific manners that must be followed?

Get marketing

Once you’ve established your business, a valuable next step is to invest in marketing to ensure you’re getting the word out about your company.

Create a website that outlines your services and showcases your work (where necessary) — this is a reflection of what you’re offering and is the first place people are going to look when they hear about your business.

It’s also pertinent to look at engaging a digital marketing agency to work on your website SEO and online presence. With so much business done via our computers and phones, you want to ensure your business is as visible as possible for potential customers and business contacts.

While the process may seem to be an inordinate amount of planning and pressure, there are simple steps any person can take to ensure their business venture into foreign territory is a success.

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