Today more than ever in a digital world, the opportunities for expanding business onto a global footing have never looked more tempting. For many business owners operating in home markets, the rich pickings and profits to be made from exploiting overseas markets are a constant reminder of the “what if” scenario. What if we were to launch this business on the worldwide stage? How would we fare?
Current global market conditions dictate that the time for “what if” has passed. Those considering expansion beyond their existing home markets have never been in a stronger position. Read on for tips on breaking in to new markets beyond South Africa’s borders:
Does a market exist?
Real on-the-ground research in new market segments is key to success. Why launch a business in a market already flooded with similar products? Full investigation of the local competition, gaps in the market to exploit and analysis of the situation on the ground is crucial to good outcomes. Will the new markets embrace the product or are there cultural differences, nuances or subtleties that have been overlooked? In short, will it translate or will it flop? No business moves in to new markets without doing research – and that applies equally whether it’s in the next state or the next continent.
Get a role model
Look at good examples of global business success for inspiration. Headlines such as Lord Laidlaw sells conference firm for $1.4 billion, serve as a reminder that creating companies with international reach can be a lucrative model. Lord Laidlaw, the Scottish peer and entrepreneur built up IIR Events as a conference and training business with interests in the US, Russia, Australasia and Europe. He sold the company a decade ago, with the new owners set to add markets such as South Africa and Eastern Europe to their global coverage. For a truly global business, IIR Events makes a good case study.
The devil is in the detail
The practicalities of delivering a new product or service in a foreign territory should not be underestimated. Iron out all such logistics prior to launch to avoid damaging delivery failures. Appoint local staff who know the area, the business, know how to pull strings, and are familiar with local etiquette and customs, so that setting off on the wrong foot is avoided. It is far better to take a slow, deliberate approach to a market launch than to act speedily in order to seize the moment. When opening up in foreign markets, less speed definitely equals more haste.
Push the digital side
Use modern technology to squeeze the most from new and emerging markets. Digital connectivity means we can swell the audience of products in ways we could never have imagined before. For relatively small investment, digital marketing and communications is one of the most potent and cost-effective ways of creating buzz around a new venture.
Whether it’s a small business with big ambitions, or a large corporation that’s simply outgrown its current market, opening up in other countries is not the impossible dream it used to be. With a solid strategy and business plan, an expectation of hard work and a winning attitude, expanding business to a worldwide audience should feel like a natural step up the ladder of progress.