Your Business Shouldn’t Be Limited To A Zip Code Or Even A Country; Expand Into Multiple Markets To Reach Multiple Demographics
The US market may be the largest (we are a nation of consumers with significant disposable income), but it is not the only market.
When starting your business, it’s easy to focus on your US audience. You are familiar with them, you know what they want, and you know how to sell it to them. But if you are only focusing on the US, you aren’t giving the rest of the world the opportunity to benefit from your amazing idea, product, or service.
Globalization has made expanding into foreign markets significantly easier for not only huge corporations, but small businesses and startups as well.
There are still some roadblocks with law, paperwork, and cultures and languages, but technology has made it easy for people to connect easily, establish relationships quickly, and communicate frequently from all over the world. This means that once your business is up and running, it can be easy to maintain.
Taking your business to global markets does require some investment, but primarily in terms of building relationships, cultivating opportunities, and making the effort to travel. The advantages can be significant because you are not only expanding your market, but developing contacts, exchanging ideas, and imagining new opportunities for both you and your partners.
Getting started in foreign markets can be done in four basic steps:
1) Connect With Large, Established Companies That Can Provide Local References
Use local business resources, such as the Pittsburgh Technology Council, to find companies in other countries who are working in related fields.
Reach out to companies with offices in the US and ask them for contacts in their overseas offices. Lots of foreign businesses maintain offices in the US and getting in touch with them here allows you to become familiar with each other while you explore the possibility of working together internationally.
2) Create Joint Ventures
Once you have connected with established international companies in your field, work together to build new companies.
Joint ventures grow out of relationships, so take advantage of your contacts. Talk with your connections, listen to their ideas and desires. Propose areas of mutual growth and benefit.
Combining with established companies means you don’t have to invest in your own infrastructure. The buildings, offices, and employees are already in place; they already have boots on the ground.
3) Develop Local Leadership
Each international market works a little differently. Each country has its rules and regulations, their own cultural expectations, their own language. These factors are challenging to navigate and can be difficult to overcome.
You need strong local leaders who understand the language, the culture, and the ways business works there. Find people you can trust to communicate your vision effectively and clearly to your growing foreign office.
4) Go There
Developing your business internationally cannot be done entirely from the US. Once you have businesses to connect with, a plan for future development, and contacts on the ground, get on a plane and go meet your future partners.
It’s hard to create meaningful relationships solely through email and telecommuting. You have to get to know your partners, you have to see your business in action, and you have to show them that you are invested in the opportunity.
Moving into foreign markets does have its own challenges, and you do have to be prepared to relinquish a little bit of control. Their world is not your world, and you have to trust the contacts you make and the partnerships you form to represent you.
If you can find those companies who are invested in mutual growth and connect with the people who you can trust with your business, you will uncover a whole world of possibilities for your business.