There are many reasons why a business should consider operating globally. These include:
– A consumer demand in the global market.
– The possibility of added profits in line with the expansion.
– An increase in reputation.
The advantages are clear, but there are hurdles ahead. If you are considering taking your brand to a global level, consider the following challenges that await you should you take the leap.
Challenge #1: Documents getting lost in translation
Writing an instruction manual (or any other form of documentation) is difficult enough in your own language, but when operating internationally, you need to prepare each and every document in line with the culture and language involved. Because of the intricacies involved, you shouldn’t use one of the many internet translation tools to get this job done. The wrong wording could offend an international client, for example, so it’s safer and easier to hire an international translation company to do this for you.
Challenge #2: Dealing with the physical distance
If you are selling a particular product or service to an international client, you can communicate with them over the telephone or internet. However, there will be times when you may need to fly overseas for a face-to-face meeting, perhaps to build trust between the two of you. There is also the shipping to consider, with the need to logistically transport your product overseas. In both cases, you are looking at significant costs. One way to alleviate this is to expand your business into an overseas premises. Again, this will be costly in the short-term, but it may make better financial sense in the long-term provided you get the expected rise in profits with the expansion.
Challenge #3: Managing the changes in each culture
As alluded to within our first point, you need to be careful when working with a culture that is unfamiliar to you. This applies to the way you do business with your clients, and the way customers shop in another country. These changes in behaviour will directly influence the way you operate, so you need to carry out research to ensure you don’t make a cultural faux pas and break certain taboos within the country. Again, by having a base of operations abroad, you can hire people local to the country to work for you. Of course, you still need to have an understanding of that country’s employment laws – not every country works 9-5 for starters. You might also consider hiring an international consultant to alleviate this challenge within your expansion plans.
Challenge #4: Understanding rules and regulations
We have already alluded to this point earlier, but there are a number of things to take into consideration. This includes the aforementioned changes in employment laws that may not be in line with the way you operate within your own country. There are also the varying fees attached to exporting and importing goods that need to be adhered too. Then there are tax laws, distribution agreements, and all manner of other legal issues to get your head around. You could simply bury your head in the sand and ignore them, but you will run into serious trouble if you do.
Challenge #5: Changes in marketing
This again comes down to cultural differences, as you will need to adapt or completely change the way you market your product or service. Again, having an understanding of the target country is essential, as you don’t want to use wording or images that could be misinterpreted in your marketing efforts. To help you, have a look at what other businesses have done before you, look online at international media and print advertising for an idea of what works, and consider hiring a transcription service for your copywriting and digital marketing tasks.
Challenge #6: Coping with the demands of an expansion
There are demands both at home and abroad that will directly affect your business. There is the time factor – will you have enough hours in a day to manage the expansion, or will you be hiring new staff to take on new responsibilities? There is the cost factor – do you have enough funds to cover you for any potential losses while setting up a new base elsewhere? There is the location factor – there will be overriding demands in whichever location you set yourself up in, so you need to do your research before committing to a particular country. In short, are you prepared for what’s ahead of you?
Having considered the above, you may decide to not operate globally after all. There are many challenges ahead, so it may be easier to take the safe route by sticking with what you know. Still, there are advantages to operating globally that may outweigh the difficulties with such a move, including the profits and reputation status we mentioned earlier. There is much to think about, so weigh up all the pros and cons before you take the leap abroad.