How to Start Your International Journey - Part 1/2: Understanding Your Global Business Opportunity
To unlock your full potential and drive successful internationalization of your business, learn the 6 steps that will help you spot the right opportunities and define a scalable global strategy that can be localized for each market.
In today’s post, let’s start with the first 3 steps, focusing on understanding your global business opportunity.
#1. Prepare for Your International Journey
Every international expansion should start with asking yourself whether your business objectives are in line with your vision to go global. Why are you looking to expand? Are you hoping to become a global leader in your industry, or are you looking for the next natural step for your business to grow profitably? If you are still wondering why you should go international at all, take a look at this article.
Investigating your very own existing infrastructure will help you determine how ready your business is to go global. This will enable you to understand whether your international strategy should be defined first and foremost by your current infrastructure, resources and possible constraints, or whether it will be defined by the available opportunities, no matter what changes and adjustments you need to implement in order to capture them.
#2. Identify the Opportunity
Which countries should you expand your business into? Identify your target market(s) based on what you are selling or offering:
- Size up the market based on your target audience and demand – this includes demand volume and growth, as well as the online and mobile penetration of your target population and their purchasing power (eg. GDP per capita).
- Get a feel for the complexity of launching in those markets – languages, payment solutions, customer care, industry standards, legislation and regulations can have a major impact on speed and cost of setting up your new venture abroad, and whether or not it will be successful.
- Assess the cultural differences, consumer preferences and even political factors – find out if your business, product or service would be a good fit in your target markets, and if there are any key factors that may affect your business in the short or long run.
Prioritize the markets that are attractive to your business, starting with the low hanging fruit, then set a roadmap and timeline to follow. It is worth noting that, although some markets may look particularly big and attractive, you might be better off focusing your efforts initially on smaller markets that may prove less challenging, less competitive, cheaper, or less resource-heavy for your business to expand into.
Try to find synergies across markets (eg. based on a common language) to scale your expansion, and map them out accordingly. Check out this article to learn about tools developed by Google that can help you plan for your international expansion.
#3. Get to Know Your Market and Your Audience
Once you have selected and prioritized which market(s) to focus on, make sure you understand the key aspects that define each of the priority markets and which of these aspects you will be able to adapt, including, but not only:
- Cultural differences – such as religion, seasonality, key holidays, events, festivals, and other important cultural aspects that may affect your business, especially your marketing strategy and messaging, as well as your positioning. Read this article for more information on how to make the most out of seasonality around the globe.
- Financial – banking, payment solutions, etc.
- Infrastructure – logistics, shipping costs and return timeframes, customs processes, warehousing, customer service, website building and domain, need for a physical office, etc.
- Legal – local regulations, compliance, taxation, etc.
- People – find the right partners locally, recruit the right people with the right skill-set, etc. Think about your current language and market skills in-house and how you can use them for pre and post sale.
- Target audience – demographic breakdown, cultural and religious variations, how consumers behave and purchase online, how they interact with international brands. Do you know what makes them different from, or similar to the domestic audience you already know so well?
Read our next post for the remaining steps, focusing on developing and implementing your international marketing plan!