Expansion is a natural ambition for any start-up or small business, especially when international growth and partnerships present the opportunity to expand beyond your initial audience. But international growth is difficult to envision if it is your first time growing a business.
There are many potential pitfalls to global expansion, from legal and logistical issues to marketing and even cultural issues. With these in mind, what steps should you be taking to expand safely and securely?
Due Diligence First
Global expansion is a major undertaking, with ramifications for multiple aspects of your business and considerable risks in tow. Business ambitions that involve international growth should be carefully examined before any investments are made to progress them.
Firstly, you will need to conduct extensive market research in the areas you have earmarked for expansion. Is there a gap in the market for your offering, and are there ways in which you can pivot your marketing to better suit expansion there?
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There are also key legal considerations to make, regarding the logistics of growth and installation of company arms in certain territories. As such, you will need to retain the services of a global law firm to help you navigate the legal logistics of establishing an international presence.
Manage Growth In-House
Any robust plan for international growth needs to be shored up by a comprehensive strategy for expanding capacity. While it may be tempting to outsource this strategy to a consultancy firm, having a personal hand on the tiller for this growth can ensure it occurs at the right pace and with the right focus. As such, you should take personal control of your expansion, and directly oversee the various processes that enable you to conduct business globally.
Create a ‘Beachhead’ Team
In order to successfully grow in international locations, you will need a dedicated team to oversee each location. These teams should not be hastily built from outsourced or local talent; rather, you should endeavour to build a ‘beachhead’ team with trusted employees from within your own management team. This way, your business’ best interests remain at the forefront when establishing a presence, and nothing gets lost in translation.
On Managing International Departments
Once your business is firmly established in new international territories, you can begin to consolidate your employee presence in those territories by filling out your teams. This will naturally involve the hiring of local talent, with two key benefits: improved interactions with local population; and targeted improvement of local team skillsets.
However, hiring talent on an international level requires a different approach to hiring domestically. You need to contend with different employment laws, cultural customs and team dynamics. A sensitive approach, a skilled central HR department and a localised approach to office culture can all help create a cohesive team without erasing personal and cultural experiences from the mix.