Expanding your small business internationally is not for the faint of heart. However, knowing what to look out for is a good start
Often SMEs have a great product or service that’s doing really well in its home market but not getting off the ground in a different marketplace. It may not be achieving the level of sales the product deserves. Frequently there’s no obviously apparent reason for the lack of success which can cause a great deal of frustration back at the office as everyone tries to figure out what’s gone wrong and how to fix it.
If a company is not doing the right things to facilitate a successful market entry, instead of massive global sales this can lead to a lot of wasted time and resources with no significant results.
Expanding a business internationally on the ‘cheap’ is unwise and rarely, if ever, provides the desired results. With limited resources, it’s key that you budget carefully, invest wisely and select external expert partners diligently to ensure you have the right structure in place and expectations are managed correctly. It can take time to become profitable in new international markets, however, with the right strategy you should start to see initial results in as quickly as 90 days.
If you want to make the most of your product’s potential by introducing it into one or more new markets, creating a go-to-market strategy is essential for each of these markets you wish to enter.
We all know and understand that every market is different and so are the customers within those markets. As an SME expanding into new regions, a tailored go-to-market strategy plays a huge role in your success. If you strategically manage the research prior to your expansion, you’re more likely to create positive results that drive considerable growth and ensure short, mid and long-term success.
Consumers and their needs will vary from country to country across the globe. Just because one country may respond well to your product or service, we can never assume a neighbouring country will feel the same. There are 45 countries within Europe alone, each with their own cultures, set of laws and trading standards. These have to be taken into consideration when scaling. There are over 700 million consumers in Europe which is a wonderful opportunity we can embrace. The root access and possibilities are endless.
In each new market, there are, however, the potential of new competitors. For any business in their home market or in a new market, it is important to understand what the competition is doing.
When entering a new market, an SME will be up against already established brands. Knowing what their next steps are could be very useful when it comes to launching a new product or service. Some adaptations may need to be made in each new market to make your product or service attractive to that market’s consumers and measures up to the legal regulations of that particular country. Often, only a minor tweak is needed. If an element of your product or service does not resonate with that market, it will need adapting to obtain sales. Market research will tell a business where the identified potential customers in each market would expect to go and buy your products or services. It is surprising how often channels are not the same from one country to the next.
The businesses that have the most successful products or services in different global markets are those that spend the time thoroughly researching markets they aim to enter. Entering a new market successfully means making no assumptions and testing each market carefully before compiling a go-to-market strategy.
Along with the team mindset of, without doubt, wanting to see the project through to the end, this focused planning stage will result in a launch strategy fit for long term success.