News August 5, 2019

So You’re Ready To Expand…

If you’re the head of a startup or planning the future of your business, you’ve probably already heard the advice that it’s best to think early about expanding abroad. This is especially true for companies not based in large countries, like the US or China, but even those who are will benefit from expanding to other markets. Here are a few quick tips that will help make your transition abroad smoother.

Do your research

This might seem obvious, but it’s incredibly important to do your research before taking the plunge. Googling “Best place to do business” is all fine and good, but it won’t give you enough in-depth information. Just because a country has great tax credits doesn’t mean that it is right for your business. Take the time to learn how your industry is represented in different countries. Some are stereotypical, such as luxury goods in France and Italy or automotive technology in Germany, but did you know that France also has a booming aeronautics industry? It’s also a good idea to look not just at countries but cities as well- for your specific needs Manchester might actually be better than London.

Pick an appropriate market

As part of doing your research, make sure you study up on how that industry is viewed not just in the country of choice, but by the world in general. An example of this would be Russia, where often, companies that manufacture medicine will base themselves in Germany or Israel, as medicine from these countries is believed to be of higher quality. Everything is still manufactured in Russia, but by basing their headquarters in one of the countries listed above, the company commands greater respect at home. Making sure that your industry has a good reputation in strategic countries is key to your success.

The importance of translation

Hiring a professional translator might seem like a lot of money, but you get what you pay for. It’s extremely important to make sure that not only your site and any additional material are properly translated so that your new customers can understand what you sell, but also that your name, logo, or slogan doesn’t accidentally mean something in another language. And while many customers, especially those in Western Europe, speak English reasonably well, it’s always more pleasant to read something in your native language. If you’ll be meeting with local business partners, it might also be a good idea to have an interpreter on hand to speed up the process and avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings.

Partner with a local

If your company is already established in your home country, a possibility to consider would be partnering with a local business. This allows you to make the most of their supply chain and knowledge of the domestic market, while they can use your internationally known name. Another Russian example of this was the KFC-Rostik’s partnership. KFC had tried several times to move into the Russian market but failed due to infrastructure problems; their partnership with Rostiks provided the missing ingredients (quite literally), allowing them to thrive and eventually buy out the Russian brand.

Pick up local customs to avoid gaffes

Once you’ve chosen the right country based on your needs, it’s a good idea to read up on local customs. Knowing ahead of time that French workers have the “right to disconnect” (a.k.a. the French email law), or that it is generally frowned on upon to touch your business partner (such as putting your hand on their shoulder when introducing them to someone) in Japan can go a long way towards helping both you and your business thrive in your new environment. There are plenty of websites out there offering country or culture specific tips, but if you want to go the extra mile, it’s worth checking out guides specific to your native culture and the one you want to integrate.