Six questions to ask before taking a business international

Taking a business global offers an opportunity to boost revenues by increasing and diversifying the customer base, discovering new markets for products, and reducing dependence on the domestic economy. For some businesses, having a physical office in a new country is vital to attracting new customers.

Fortunately, doing business overseas doesn’t have to be daunting and can enable company growth. With the right approach, businesses can simplify any complications that may arise.

To maximise the chance of a successful expansion to a new country, the business leader must answer six key questions:

1. What’s the benefit of expanding? Business leaders must be clear on the advantages that the new market presents that can’t be achieved elsewhere. This could include the ability to disrupt that market, attract new clients, reap cost efficiencies, or outshine the competition.

2. What’s the red tape? It’s essential to research local laws and industry regulations as they can affect everything from taxes to working conditions. There may even be some surprises, like less regulation in the international market than at home.

3. What do the locals want? It can be useful to get a local expert to validate whether the product or service will resonate with the new market. A local expert can suggest ways to make the value proposition resonate better with local customers. They can also help with hiring, determining the client demographic, and product planning.

4. What new skills/certifications are required? Employees may need to acquire new skills or certifications to be eligible to work in the new market. Knowledge of the local language will help in addition to knowing cultural sentiments and business etiquette.

5. Does the new market have everything the business needs? If the business model relies on always-on, super-fast internet speeds, it’s important to make sure those speeds will be available. Business leaders should fully assess all the requirements for success and then make sure the new market provides it, and, if not, research viable workarounds.

6. Can the business start over? While the business may have a strong reputation at home, opening a new office in a new country means starting fresh. This can be beneficial, especially if the organisation is looking to rebrand. But business leaders must plan for and be aware of the costs in building the brand in a new environment.

Researching each aspect of the business strategy along with exploring alternatives and safeguards will help business leaders understand the markets they’re entering. Information is paramount for success.

Matt Goss, Managing Director, Concur

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