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Introduction

Finding the right formula to create a successful, thriving business is never easy. It takes strategic planning, adequate financing, teamwork, hard work and the right combination of personnel and management to ensure an operation is running on all cylinders. Building a thriving business is equal parts rewarding, exciting, and lucrative.

Once you've achieved that magic mix of elements, you might want to think about how you could grow or replicate that success. It might be about expanding operations locally, regionally and, if everything goes according to plan, even globally. The latter of which is the focal point of this e-Book.

Considerations for taking an operation overseas aren’t quite the same as the ones you would make when considering a move into another domestic market. Global expansion is its own unique beast. Luckily, you have come to the right place for all your border-crossing needs.

The world grows more connected each day. Advances in finance and technology have created new pathways for business — opportunities that once were out of reach for many are suddenly right there for the taking. The current business climate has made the lines between geography and political boundary less prohibitive each day. For many, the disappearance of these limitations represents an incredible business opportunity. There are untapped revenue sources all over the planet — it's your job to find them.

For you, this emerging reality represents a chance to take your operation to the next level and create an enterprise, unlike anything you have ever been a part of. So, how do we do it? Well, let's start by talking about what's required to pull off an undertaking of this magnitude successfully. (Hint: It takes a lot of research, determination, and hard work.)

Global expansion is an exercise in adaptability. There will be new rules, regulations, social and cultural norms and myriad other elements that will require your expert navigation. Thankfully, we are going to go over each step of the process in painstaking detail in the coming chapters. This e-Book is going to cover everything you'll need to know before thinking about making that leap across international boundaries broken down into straightforward, digestible steps. There is no one right way to go global. There is, however, a smart process that considers critical factors like market selection, new investment strategies, finding the right people to execute the move and navigating complex foreign rules and regulations.

As you will read in the coming chapters, expanding operations across the world will be as hard, if not harder, than everything it took to get as far as you already have come. But the price of success is often high. The key to pulling it off will be a steadfast commitment to the cause, laser focus and a willingness to adapt and make changes quickly. Let's get started with the first step in making this work: choosing the right market.

Chapter 1: Researching Markets

Deciding which new markets to enter is a complicated endeavour. There are many questions to consider, and the process might seem overwhelming at first. The key to this phase is finely-honed process of elimination skills.

Much of the decision about where to expand to will be predicated on the particular strengths of your business, the amount of capital available, the amount of capital needed, geography and, of course, revenue potential. On the flip side, you will also need a keen understanding of the lay of any (new) land and those operating there before being able to commit to any location. Choosing a location for expansion isn’t merely selecting a place on the map to open up shop — it’s choosing a new business biome as well.

There are a lot of questions to think about. What is the competition like in this new place? Is my service unique to the market there? Is my service very similar, or perhaps very different, to others offered in this location? What language do they speak there? As such, thorough market reconnaissance is critical ahead of any planned move. The answer to these questions is wholly operative to the chances of success.

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Accounting giant Grant Thornton offers some additional considerations when it comes to building a list of potential areas to grow, and some ways you can weed out locations that are not a great fit. They suggest narrowing down potential markets by looking at a broad swath of critical "decision-making criteria" and matching them to your capacities. Among some of the items, they suggest considering are: (https://www.grantthornton.global/en/insight s/articles/checklist-for-international-growth/)

  • Size of Potential Market
  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Growth Potential in Prospective Market
  • Consumer Preferences
  • Competition
  • Availably of Talent
  • Political Risk
  • Cultural Barriers
  • Language Barriers
  • Understanding Compliance
  • Regulations
  • Tax Climate
  • Supply Chain Security
  • Quality of Life for Relocating Employees

Can you tolerate higher taxes if consumers have a great demand for your product or service? Do you care about geography and time zone? Or are you flexible in this area? Do you want to grab a small slice of a big market, or dominate a smaller one?

Another consideration of note, they say, is how long you can go without realizing new profits in the market you choose. You will need to consider the benefits of taking short-term gains quickly and measure the benefits of those gains against long-term windfalls. Every location is going to have a different timetable.

"Beyond the immediate market opportunity, other factors that may help you narrow down your shortlist further are elements such as innovation culture or a business-friendly environment," reads information from Grant Thornton. "A market with a dynamic research and development landscape with generous incentives and high levels of technological readiness, for example, could be beneficial to adapting your product in the new market."

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No matter where you go, it's likely you are going to be up against some established players. This might prove challenging.

Startup Grind makes some excellent observations concerning how to navigate competition in a new prospective market. (https://www.startupgrind.com/blog/the- importance-of-market-research-before- expanding-internationally/) Consider, they say, selecting your new market by choosing the path of least competitive resistance. You don't want to get crushed by entrenched industry giants right out of the gate.

"Whilst a business may have a completely unique, effective business model in their home country, there may be many more competitors overseas who are likely to be more established in their own country than the business looking to expand," reads information from the business resource. "These competitors could pose a significant threat to the business's chances of success when operating overseas."

Of course, there are risks, too, associated with moving into a market with absolutely no context or frame of reference for the demand of your product or service. Markets containing your competition are, at the very least, a signal there is at least some demand for the product or service you are offering. Mainly, you need to weigh these competing concepts against each other and find the right balance between dense competition and the perils of uncharted waters before picking any new locations.

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Of course, there are risks, too, associated with moving into a market with absolutely no context or frame of reference for the demand of your product or service. Markets containing your competition are, at the very least, a signal there is at least some demand for the product or service you are offering. Mainly, you need to weigh these competing concepts against each other and find the right balance between dense competition and the perils of uncharted waters before picking any new locations.

Another suggestion from Startup Grind calls for an aggressive analysis of the customer base in a new potential market. One area worth nothing is how they treat brand loyalty, both in general and concerning new products and services. Ask yourself, do the consumers in a given location have strong feelings when it comes to brands, or are they more concerned with quality, cost and availability.

"Having a loyal customer base is essential in helping businesses which expand stay afloat (expansion is, after all, a costly process), so market research can give them a good overall impression of how popular they may be before they spend money in expanding," notes Startup Grind.

You should also posit some of Medium's top inquiries when choosing a new market. They, too, call for an analysis of how consumers in the market can be expected to respond to your product or service. If they indicate you don't have to change much, you could be at a significant advantage. (https://medium.com/@JohnBerthet/want- to-expand-internationally-here-is-how-to- prioritize-the-good-targets-3e684cfa9a95)

"Speak to a few locals from this country and see how they react," suggest Medium. "See how analogous businesses compare between countries. If you can keep a consistent product across countries, your life will be 10x easier."

They also remind business managers to gauge competition from both incumbent companies as well as startups operating in the space. Those startups may, similarly, be moving into that market from another country. Those competitors might be harder to get a good read on, as they are equally new to this space.

Further, please don't underestimate the local competition, and don't rely on superficial judgements about their appearance. Brand loyalty is more in- depth than you might realize, they note, and seemingly docile competitors might have a fiercely loyal fan base.

You will also need to think carefully about how far this market is from your home country. Are there time zone considerations you will need to make?

What about travel costs during scouting and exploration? Are there ways to cut those costs by allowing yourself to do some of the research required without necessarily hopping on a flight ten times a month?

It is possible, perhaps even likely, that you are going to need to make one or more trips to the destinations on your shortlist of markets. Be sure you have that budgeted for ahead of time. You don't want to do all that leg work only to realize you overlooked something important that you could have learned only by taking a necessary trip.

A note about culture: This should go without saying, but we will discuss it anyway. No matter where you go, be absolutely sure that you are familiar with local customs and culture. You do not want to kill potential strategic, critical partnerships before you even get started with your expansion plans.

Everything you need to know about every nation, every city and every culture on the planet is readily available to you.

There is no excuse for not doing your homework. Besides, being respectful of general manners, politeness, and etiquette, knowing these details might mean the difference between doing business and not doing business. No matter where you want to go, be sure to read up.

Now, let's look a little deeper at some of the things you will need to think about as you start planning for this type of move.

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Chapter 2: Exploring Operational Considerations

The early stages of expansion exploration can be trying and stressful. There is an enormous amount of information to consider. Cost-benefit considerations, risk tolerance, local infrastructure and the myriad of factors listed above all require in-depth analysis.

After you've looked carefully at the different facets of your business — the ones that are a boost to your business operation as well as the things potentially holding you back — and how they might play in the markets you are considering, you can start looking into some more detailed considerations for your overseas expansion plans. (We will cover more on deep self-assessment later in this e-Book.) Again, let's turn to Grant Thornton for some next-step analysis recommendations. (https://www.grantthornton.global/en/insights/articles/checklist-for-international- growth/).

"Every international expansion strategy has its attractions and pitfalls. Whether it's exporting products or services, developing a partnership, making an acquisition or setting up operations, you need to think through all aspects of the approach," they recommend. "Determine the best route and whether it aligns with the business's overall strategy and the capacity of the organization."

João Rafael, of Grant Thornton Brazil transaction services, also notes "marketing" and "visibility" are two significant challenges facing leaders considering expanding abroad. According to Rafael, understanding these channels in your new market is critical to determining strategy and method going forward. Being seen is essential. Especially for a company that has no footprint yet, being visible is vital. Don’t be afraid to aggressively market yourself in a new business climate. You cannot succeed without making noise in your new biome.

You will also need to consider macro- environmental characteristics about the new locations you hope to grow into. The nature of the market matters, but so too does your tolerance for slightly higher upfront costs and energy usage.

"You can find the right structure for the right market. The conditions in that market will inform your options, whether that relates to an active local labour market or government-backed incentives for foreign direct investment," reads information from Grant Thornton. "Setting up a local office, for example, can lower legal risks and enhance the business' ability to adapt products and services to local markets, traditionally this approach is also considered an expensive and time- consuming option."

You are also going to need to become extremely familiar with any foreign governments you are likely to encounter during expansion. The Business Journals points out that local government stability must not be overlooked as it is intimately related to many relevant aspects of your potential expansion. (https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/ho w-to/growth- strategies/2015/02/considerations-for- taking-your-business-global.html).

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While businesses operating solely in industrialized nations with relatively calm political environments — perhaps your own country is one of these — do not have to worry about disruption, ones expanding to nations with social unrest, dissent and even violence must account for these ahead of time. Don’t take political stability for granted.

"Government stability holds the key to contract integrity, employee security and rights, trademark and intellectual property and many other facets in conducting business. Make sure to seek 'local' expertise over the political and business factors before entertaining any overseas expansion.”

The Business Journals also suggests thinking about the strength of crucial infrastructure in any new country you might begin doing business. To that end, they also list as essential deciding elements: "Currency exchange rates; access to needed resources and materials; communication and transportation options; government assistance programs for businesses; access to affordable capital; protection policies for businesses; [and] immigration and employment laws."

Many jurisdictions do have useful incentive programs, and they absolutely should be explored. In Asia, Grant Thornton points out that tech companies usually enjoy substantial government- backed incentives if residents are employed at the company. These incentives can often be the difference between hitting small, tolerable margins and healthier target goals.

Once you have a firm handle on these broad, high-level considerations and you start to paint a picture of what potential expansion might look like, you'll need to take the next step in plotting your course to another country. This one, often, can be prohibitive, so your assessment must be detailed and objective. As such, it's time for you to start …

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Chapter 3: Identifying Costs

Business is a bottom-line endeavour. Everything you do is aimed at ensuring that revenues grow and costs are managed. Figuring out the price of a potential expansion is, naturally, an important exercise. These impending costs will drive many of your decisions, including, most importantly, if an expansion plan is worth exploring at all. Identifying costs is also the first step in figuring out how much capital you will need to overcome these costs.

Be sure you understand, as best you can, how much it will truly take to get the ball rolling in your new market before looking too deeply into what sorts of revenues can be expected down the road.

Of course, no matter how much you plot and plan, there is going to be some element of uncertainty, notes the Entrepreneur Handbook. "You can get stats to show how big a new market is and how much revenue it will generate for your business, but that's still only theory." (https://entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk/taki ng-your-business-global/).

Like in the domestic elements of your business, you will need to identify the big- ticket items that are going to require the heaviest initial injection of capital. You will also, though, need to account for the smaller, too often overlooked, items that will add up over time. Make no mistake — these costs are going to add up. Everything from leasing office space to the highway tolls needed to get there must be diligently and meticulously accounted for in your assessment.

In truth, regardless of where you ultimately decide to go, there will be costs associated with the move you are likely to overlook. It might be advisable to build-in some extra slack in case of unexpected or unaccounted for expenses. Once you begin the journey into another country, it will be harder to cut the cord and shut down the operation. Be prepared for everything and save yourself grief down the road.

The costs associated with moving into a new market can be extremely challenging to mitigate, reads the Entrepreneur Handbook. Overcoming these costs will take time, and the longer it takes, the more impatient you might become.

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Like starting a new business at home, fresh expenses will not be recuperated on day one, and that's okay. The fear of the unknown during these types of expansions can be debilitating. This is not like opening another shop in an adjacent city, and there are financial uncertainties during global growth that can prove immensely stressful. Most importantly, be patient, trust your process and stick to your plans.

"As soon as you set up somewhere, you will be incurring costs before you can generate revenue — an office, a phone line, a new set of web pages, a salesperson etc. While you might like the idea of global expansion, if you don't get a firm grip on costs, it could kill your company," reads information from Entrepreneur Handbook.

You should also be cognizant of how these new costs will translate to your home market. The locations you are considering may value items, services and even your native currency substantially differently from each other. The discrepancies in these values may impact potential revenue. However, they will also impact potential costs as well.

Omnichannel software provider Brightpearl does a great job of breaking down potential costs and categorizing them neatly and conveniently. Brightpearl lumps potential costs into four key groups: initial investment, personnel, landed costs and other costs. Concerning your upfront expenses, they note, it may take some time to recover your initial investment. (https://blog.brightpearl.com/financial- considerations-of-global-growth)

"Expanding into some markets could cost you thousands, or even tens of thousands in market entry costs, while there's often a two-year lead-time before you can say you've successfully penetrated an overseas market," states Brightpearl concerning initial costs. "There are also other overheads you'll need to take into account, such as the staff time spent on expansion plans and implementation, including website changes, and whether you need to increase your customer service hours to support your new overseas customers."

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Similar to domestic expansion, you will need to account for additional personnel costs as well. Among some of the professional services Brightpearl identifies, specifically, are a lawyer, accountant, and banker familiar with cross-border commerce. In this way, your bases will be covered concerning expert, specialized services, and you will have the proper guidance when navigating unfamiliar bureaucracies.

Next, Brightpearl says you'll need to think about "landed costs." These pertain primarily to buying goods overseas.

"Landed costs include things like freight charges, insurance costs, and import duty, calculated from where the item began its journey up to the final destination, and they all need to be accounted for," reads information from Brightpearl. "This could mean that your sale prices when selling to overseas customers need to increase, simply to help cover all of these extra costs that are often not required when selling in your home country."

Lastly, they advise keeping track of some other additional expenses like those that might be associated with exchange rates and inventory storage, among others.

Once you have a handle on the costs, naturally, you're going to need to mitigate them. One way to do this is with fresh financing. Your financing plan is going to rely heavily on the market you hope to enter and the specific financial obligations you are expecting to take on should you do so.

Raising money, no matter how much you need, can be a challenge, too. According to information from Grant Thornton, one survey showed that 19% of business leaders cited finance shortfalls as the most substantial barrier to international growth. There are lots of routes to take, though, and Grant Thornton walks through some of the more popular ones in their informational materials.

Some of the options include private equity, export loans, exploring peer-to-peer lending platforms and even "private initial public offerings." Alternative financing has become a way for some businesses to secure funding as bank support might be scarce. (https://www.grantthornton.global/en/insights/articles/checklist-for-international- growth/)

You will also need to consider what degree of partnership you want to entertain and how much ownership stake you are willing to part with before you decide on a course of action. For your first foray into global expansion, it might be helpful to trade some equity in exchange for operational help in your new market. It really depends on your personal comfort levels.

"The range of capital solutions available has evolved significantly over recent years, with funding platforms migrating from exclusively suiting small-scale ventures and startups to more established businesses, and a proliferation of hybrid debt and equity solutions," they said.

Ahead of making a financing pitch, you are going to need to come up with a timetable for when potential investors can begin to expect returns, as well. Investors will be more likely to tolerate more prolonged periods of investment recovery if you can show them a solid, detailed, and well-thought-out business plan. Investors value, over all else, knowing what they own. Show them a viable path to profit, and they will be much more willing to ride along with you.

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Chapter 4: Making Strategic Investments

Strategic investments are a great way to build partnerships when exploring new avenues of business. Economy Watch explains these investments are designed to facilitate business relationships, something that can be especially useful when entering new terrain. (https://www.economywatch.com/investment/strategic investing.html#:~:text=A%20strategic%20inv estment%20is%20a,to%20serve%20shared%20business%20goals.)

"A strategic investment is a transaction that is closely related to joint ventures. In strategic investments, one company invests in another. These two companies enter into agreements that are designed to serve shared business goals," explains the publication.

These investments can include a diverse array of transactions and are not always predicated directly on financial outcomes. Sometimes, broader business and strategy considerations take precedent over simply hauling in huge gains off the bat. In this way, these partnerships can be useful concerning more comprehensive business operations, much like those required for international expansion.

"A strategic investment differs from an investment by a venture capitalist in that the latter aims to generate a huge return on investment. Corporate venturing, which refers to a large firm investing in a smaller firm, is an example of strategic investing," explains Economy Watch.

Making these sorts of strategic investments as a mechanism to facilitate global expansion, in many ways, is a substantially different approach than trading equity for capital and operational support. One raises money — the other relies on disbursing it.

However, these two strategies can be compatible, and you don't need to choose just one or the other. A combination of the two can be an effective strategy under the right circumstances. Here, it is helpful to have a strong team of financial advisors and number hawks who can compose workable options that suit your needs.

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Strategic investing will come down to comfort. If there are existing entities that can more efficiently deliver on some aspects of your business, it may be worthwhile to find ways financially to support their operations in exchange for equity and operational support of their own.

Again, there is no magic formula, and strategic partnerships do not come in one-size-fits-all packaging. You will need to decide on a plan that fits your individual company's set of circumstances and execute as such. For this reason, the planning and research phases discussed above must be thorough and done with great care. So many of the financial elements mentioned here will be dependent on what markets you are planning to expand to the environment they offer.

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Chapter 5: Organizing Priorities

We have already touched on a few items that are clearly at the top of the list of things that warrant immediate consideration. Where are you going to go, and how are you going to pay for it? This is the foundation of your expansion, and you cannot move forward without mapping these out in explicit detail.

At this point, it will be helpful to work backwards and start eliminating markets that do not fit your business and operational model and your geographic and political requirements. Identifying prohibitive factors is a beneficial exercise and will inform much of what you ultimately decide. In this way, choosing what you are not going to do should be high on your list of priorities.

Concerning potential expansion plans, it will also be especially important to be sure you have a clear, firm understanding of your domestic operations, your strengths and weaknesses, and your core mission. Expanding operations overseas is a lot like building a house — the foundation must be strong or the rest will falter.

Having a firm grasp on what is happening now will go a long way in ensuring plans go smoothly. Here, you can begin to prioritize what you need to do in the near term and what can wait for later.

As we mentioned before, there is no shortage of considerations you must account for, so it is critical you don’t waste time and energy on items that don’t need immediate attention.

At this stage in the plan, it might be advisable to do a more formal audit of your company. For example, a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis could provide some much- needed clarity before going forward.

Mindtools offers a helpful walkthrough and template for executing a SWOT test. In essence, the two-by-two grid lays the above-stated elements side-by-side and helps tailor decisions based on the items listed in each quadrant. This is useful information as you work toward building a business abroad. In essence, you must know what you are now to be able to understand what you will become going forward (https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/n ewTMC_05.htm#:~:text=SWOT%20stands%2 0for%20Strengths%2C%20Weaknesses,to%2 0your%20organization's%20best%20advant age.)

Once you have finished laying bare the elements of the SWOT analysis, you can begin to see where you need the most attention, and where you can exploit opportunities to strengthen your expansion efforts in the coming months. This is extremely useful when considering priority operations.

Financial engineer John Berthet has some very helpful tips for prioritizing your expansion needs outside of your existing circumstances. First, he suggests you seek to define critical development characteristics. (https://medium.com/@JohnBerthet/want-to-expand-internationally-here-is-how-to-prioritize-the-good-targets-3e684cfa9a95)

"Before you think through your international strategy, you need to work out how to define your options. Does it make the most sense to define your expansion by cities, countries, languages, ecosystems, or something else?" posits Berthet.

When prioritizing markets, try to think big. Some markets, for example, like the ones not at least as big as your domestic market, might not be worth the effort and funding. Look to markets that are larger than the one you are in now. In this way, market size should also be a top consideration when composing a list of priorities.

"By all means, let your existing German team make opportunistic sales to clients in Vienna, but don't call this international growth. 'Big' here refers to the size of your directly addressable market; proxies such as population, GDP, or a number of small businesses are a distraction," says Berthet.

Another worthwhile endeavour, notes Berthet, is developing a roadmap to expansion similar to the one you might create if you were launching a new product or service. To that end, he says, "define a clear schedule" and then review that schedule. Constant self- assessment and review must be at the top of the list of things you do as you prepare for growth.

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Chapter 6: Navigating Regulations

This is one of the more complex and specialized areas you will have to deal with while planning your growth strategy.

Depending on where you are starting, and where you are going, this area may be relatively straightforward, or it may be wildly complex. An American company expanding into Asia is likely going to have a much different experience than a European company expanding from France to Italy.

Federal and local laws are important factors when planning a possible expansion, but so too are more subtle considerations. What are the local consumer protection guidelines? What is the income tax structure? What about corporate taxes? Are there benefits to choosing one municipality over another concerning local regulations?

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One area that warrants serious consideration is data privacy. For example, Europe recently passed a new edict called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that has enormous implications for those looking to do business on the continent. Data protection and digital security are among the most pressing issues facing the industry in any context. It is advisable to be well versed in this area as it occupies a growing segment of commerce.

According to information from Wikipedia, GDPR is relevant for European Union nations as well as those operating in the "European Economic Area" (EEA). Not only that, but it is also operative concerning the transfer of personal data outside those zones as well. For companies that collect personal information from consumers in any capacity, this is a huge deal. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_D ata_Protection_Regulation)

The GDPR's scope is massive, and its impact has reverberated throughout the global business and technological community with force. Other countries and spheres of influence could potentially adopt similar regulations (some have already), so be sure to investigate any relevant cyber-security laws in your potential target markets.

"The GDPR's primary aim is to give control to individuals over their data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU," reads information from the online encyclopedia. "… the regulation contains provisions and requirements related to the processing of personal data of individuals (formally called data subjects in the GDPR) who are located in the EEA and applies to any enterprise — regardless of its location and the data subjects' citizenship or residence — that is processing the personal information of individuals inside the EEA."

Also, note its jurisdiction for entities not physically located in the EEA. In this way, even a company not moving its base-of- operations into the geographic boundaries of the EEA must still account for these new regulations and abide by their restrictions.

"Data privacy and cybercrime are particularly in focus as regulation around international data transfer and storage change and tightens; meanwhile businesses that enter new markets increase their exposure to threats," adds Grant Thornton.

To that end, risks associated with compliance, international property laws, bribery, fraud and more must all be accounted for too, they note. "Being able to make informed decisions is critical to managing those risks. You need to make sure that you have the right data, intelligence and advice to balance that risk with your ambition."

Information cited by Grant Thornton shows 23% of business leaders around the world view regulatory restriction and "complexity" as their most significant constraint for expansion. However, they note these rules do not have to stand in the way of growth so long as the planning and execution are done correctly. They say taking the needed steps to ensure compliance may help your business grow. And they point out that many companies use an "integrated digital risk approach" concerning data privacy laws and cybersecurity issues.

"It can create a competitive advantage. Building strong relationships on the ground, for example, can lead to better trust from regulators while being proactive in complying to regulation enhances transparency and reputation for your customers too."

Concerning intellectual property, they suggest checking closely to make sure any trademarks, copyrights and licenses are protected. Also, be sure your intellectual property will not impact the intellectual property of companies operating within your new market.

Navigating these regulatory matters will likely require consult and expertise outside the scope of in-house resources. Not every company has the sort of professionals readily at hand that deal in these matters. Knowing that each market is completely different, and each potential market is unique concerning laws, customs and regulations, it might be challenging to find affordable expertise for every market you are considering.

As such, regulatory concerns are also budgetary concerns. You will need to factor in how much it will cost to build the required regulatory infrastructure alongside other expenses like real estate, wholesale purchasing, and additional operational costs. And don't skimp here. The last thing you want to do is find yourself digging your company out of a mountain of red tape, or worse.

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Chapter 7: Leveraging Opportunities

Opportunity is the reason you are here. Opportunity is the reason why you believe you can expand your business into another market. Everything you are going to do is predicated on the idea that you can take advantage of an opportunity that has presented itself — be it related to supple finances, demand for your services, or some other attractive circumstances.

So, where does the opportunity come from? And how can you efficiently seize it? Some opportunities are simple strokes of luck. Enterprising individuals create others. Still, others are borne of the environment we play in. Entrepreneur says that innovation is a vital driving force behind new, global opportunities and that businesses that can adapt these innovations gain a substantial advantage over the competition. (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/280 951)

"Competition and opportunity increase as technology travels across the globe in milliseconds. Collectively tuned into streams of newsfeeds, with an on-demand global database of knowledge at our fingertips, we are of a century awash in innovation. Businesses and people are for the most part, better for it." reads information from the publication.

They call for six critical elements to leverage global opportunities: differentiate; update for mobile and web; innovate for a strategic edge; earn credibility; give back, and remember to invest in people (more on that last one later).

"So what does this mean for your company? Are you going to be left in the dust, leverage the global opportunity to drive your company to even greater heights, or muddle through without taking advantage of the resources available to you?" posits the publication.

The reality of the situation is that everything you are doing here is, ultimately, to leverage a new opportunity. From choosing your market to deciding on the best funding options to identifying government incentives to bolster margins, the name of the game is finding opportunities and maximizing the potential benefits.

It's worth noting, too, that while global expansion is its own animal, it does share some similarities to domestic expansion. For example, you always want to identify and exploit holes in your market efficiently. You want to fill vacuums and voids with vigour. You want to give consumers what they want and what they need no matter what country they live and shop in. Business is taking advantage of one opportunity after another and compounding those successes.

Again, Berthet also offers some great advice. This time, it is concerning maximizing global expansion opportunities. One such recommendation he offers is to look for "synergies." Don't spend any more time and money than you have to.

"Are there synergies across markets? For example, if you are in eCommerce, you can establish distribution hubs that cover much of Europe, and many suppliers will work with you across the continent. This also applies in sectors such as logistics and advertising," says Berthet.

The unique benefit to global expansion is the diversity of opportunity. Your operation might be perfectly tailored to a particular business climate — figuring out where that is might mean the difference between enormous success and floundering failure. Chances are, that market is somewhere reachable. Finding it might be challenging, but once you do, you should proceed with conviction.

Good business minds will be able to identify ways to creatively take advantage of natural elements in new markets. This is achieved with open- mindedness and out-of-the-box thinking that accounts for as many variables as possible. These are tremendously essential business attributes, especially when one is considering expansion.

Both at home and abroad, there are new opportunities at every turn. Cost-saving measures, new service demands, partnerships, marketing, and so much more can be leveraged by the crafty business owner. All that remains for you is to put in the time, energy and, if necessary, money — and then execute.

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Chapter 8: Identifying The Right People

If you are even considering an expansion into another country, you have likely had success in your home market. How did you it? You made a plan, found the funding, and built a strong and successful team. The latter is especially important when looking to go global.

Human resources are one of the single most important factors for a successful expansion. Consider the advice of Mary Karamanos, senior vice president of human resources at BDC. (https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles- tools/business-strategy-planning/manage- growth/pages/creating-talent-plan-support- business-growth.aspx)

"When a company expands, its human resources capacity has to keep up," she said. "An expansion plan can easily go off the rails if the right people aren't in the right positions, fully trained, and ready to assume their new responsibilities."

No matter what stage a company is in, it cannot succeed without the proper people. They are irreplaceable. Adds Karamanos, "A common mistake that growing companies make is not taking enough time to plan their HR needs. A good place to start is to define roles and responsibilities. That will bring clarity to what needs to be accomplished and what knowledge, experience, and skills are required."

ACCA Global also urges owners to remember the value of investing in their workforce. Without the right people, the operation simply does not work. (https://www.accaglobal.com/content/dam/ ACCA_Global/Technical/smb/ea-ready-for- growth.pdf)

"Do not be afraid to invest in new people and new talent to meet the challenges of the new markets and diversified business streams you are entering; ensuring that you can manage high growth, as well as being prepared for it in the future, is the priority," they say.

Think about attending international trade shows, too. There, you can increase your exposure to foreign labour markets and begin connecting with qualified candidates. Meeting the right people is extremely important at this stage of your expansion plans. A few good recruits, too, might speed along the expansion process if they can leverage their networks for you. You never know whom you might connect with at these events, and there are also tons of benefits to attending outside of simply meeting candidates.

However, unlike what you have already done in your home market, the individuals you will need to build another winning team might not have the same skills. But to be fair, they may not even need the same skills. The team you build abroad might be composed completely differently than the one you have already put together. It's entirely possible, too, they have little in common. Some may not even speak the same language.

It's possible you may need to build a new labour force from scratch. This could present many challenges. The labour force in an overseas market may not be as large as the one you are operating in now. The pool of qualified candidates might be significantly smaller than the one you had available to you the first time you put together a staff. So, what can you do? The Entrepreneur Handbook offers some ideas (https://entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk/taking -your-business-global/)

"Governments and chambers of commerce are a quick and easy place to start. Don't ignore social media to get things rolling. LinkedIn Groups can be a good place to score some quick wins," they suggest.

Further, think about the consequences of reallocating existing human resources should that be required. John Berthet recommends being especially aware of the impact these personnel moves will have when moving individuals from one market to another. This includes yourself. (https://medium.com/@JohnBerthet/want- to-expand-internationally-here-is-how-to- prioritize-the-good-targets-3e684cfa9a95)

"Some CEOs feel it's their duty to open every new country or city, some other[s] will choose not doing so. In every case, remember if you move one pawn to another position, it needs to be replaced by an equivalent," states Berthet. "Anyway, in every country you open you should have a local right hand you can trust. The best compromise I noticed [is] to find someone with a double culture: yours and the one of the country you've opened."

You will also need to grapple with how much control to give managers operating outside of your borders. "The risk here is letting go and trusting someone else with your business. You can't be in two places at once, and you need other people in the team who can help you build the business," Berthet says.

This is an incredibly important consideration, too, as the balancing act between hands-on and hands-off depends a lot on your management style as much as it does the people you bring on board. Again, most aspects of global expansion consideration — and business in general, for that matter — come down to honest and objective self- assessment. To know what types of employees you need, you first need to assess what type of employer you are.

Lastly, don't forget, finding the right individuals to execute your vision is essential and a great start. However, it is only that — a start.

"Once you have the people in place (I know it's not trivial), you need to provide them with a lot of support and tell them exactly what you want and understand exactly what they can deliver," advises Entrepreneur Handbook.

Chapter 9: Overcoming (And Avoiding) Obstacles

At times, it may feel as though the entire process of planning and executing a global expansion is an exercise in overcoming obstacles. In many ways, it is just that. You're going to be in a position where troubleshooting and problem-solving will need to come as naturally as walking to the refrigerator for a glass of water.

In many ways, your entire business career has been leading up to this moment. Building any business requires a substantial amount of obstacle mitigation. The scale is different now, but the principles remain the same. Objectivity, reason, patience, and hard work cannot be substituted. These are the bedrock of any crisis prevention and mitigation.

One common obstacle many owners face when launching into a new country is supply chain related. You will be in unfamiliar territory and may not yet be versed in the infrastructure dynamics of your new market. An inefficient supply chain could be crippling to a new business venture. For this reason, you need to take affirmative measures to ensure the flow of goods and services is uninterrupted in the formative stages of your expanded operation.

For those selling goods, Attest suggests taking on some additional back stock early to make sure you don't run into the dreaded empty-shelf scenario. (https://www.askattest.com/blog/insight/6- ways-to-break-through-the-barriers-to- international-expansion)

"Managing a supply chain that crosses national boundaries can be a real challenge — factors like imports, exports, shipping, and logistics can be hugely time-consuming and complex. Any delays you experience — and you will experience delays — can have a big knock-on effect," they say. "If a container of your goods fails to show up on time, gets lost or worse impounded, you could end up with empty shelves or unable to fulfil online orders. This impacts your sales, damages your reputation, and leads to higher operating costs."

A buffer stock contingency can help guarantee that early supply chain issues are quickly mitigated. Even though there will be some extra costs associated with keeping this stock, that expense may be worth the assurance you will not lose credibility and the confidence of your new customers.

Rodger Flynn, Asia-Pacific regional head of network capabilities at Grant Thornton International, reiterated how important it is for business managers to stay ahead of supply chain risks and be prepared for multiple contingencies.

"Traditionally, in Asia Pacific where many operations have supply chains in China, any company worth its salt has a China plus one strategy in case of disruption," said Flynn. "In the current US/China trade war, it pays to have multiple supply chains in mind as a contingency."

Grant Thornton also suggests carrying out regular and thorough checks on your supply chain and, separately, to be sure to also account for things like international employees' labour rights and the quality and origin of raw materials. These must meet both domestic and international standards of compliance. (https://www.grantthornton.global/en/in sights/articles/checklist-for- international-growth/)

Creating effective marketing campaigns is another area where many companies face challenges when launching in another country. Marketing is critical to the success of a new business no matter where it is launching, so it is imperative to get it right when expanding to a new market. However, the problem many marketers run into is that they fail to appreciate the nuance of their new area of operation.

"Hopefully you've conducted a thorough market study and established that you have a customer base ready and waiting in your new territory. However, that in itself is not enough — you need to understand how to market to your new audience," reads information from Attest.

Every market, and most importantly, every culture has its intricate composition. Very likely, it will be different from the one you are familiar with, and there will be much to learn. It is incumbent upon you, the business owner, to understand the intersection between social life, norms and mores, and commerce in your new market. It might mean the difference between success and failure.

Reads Attest, "You can't simply have your existing campaigns translated — you'll need to speak to them in a way that resonates (and doesn't unintentionally offend). The tone-deafness of brands entering new markets is well documented."

They cite the recent example of Italian company Dolce & Gabbana's advertisement that ran in China depicting a Chinese model trying, and failing, to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks. This was "quickly labelled racist," they noted.

Be sure to be careful of directly translating proper names, too. The Hyundai Kona was rebranded in Portugal as the "Kauai" due to the original name's auditory proximity to a term for female genitalia.

"You can avoid potential embarrassment by conducting customer research and focus groups around your proposed marketing and branding initiatives and seeing how well they are received," they note.

The most successful operations will come from a blend of thorough market research, feedback from local audiences, and bringing the best elements of your current operation with you, notes Attest.

The key to overcoming obstacles is avoiding them in the first place. This is, naturally, easier said than done. It is hard to predict precisely how a new marketing campaign will be received or how local customers are going to respond to your service and your brand. The only thing you can do is to put in the time and come up with a set of contingencies that are achievable, cost- aware, and agile.

So, what do you do when things do start to go wrong? After all, it is highly unlikely that a global expansion endeavour will go off without a few hiccups. Berthet offers some food for thought concerning what to do once you finally make a move and things start to go a little sideways. The first thing you need to do, he says, is buckle down and start digging into data.

"Did your market change this year in the country? Do you need to put more funds into this branch to reach a profitable threshold? Do you need maybe to change your employees? It's important to review your activity annually," he suggests. (https://medium.com/@JohnBerthet/wan t-to-expand-internationally-here-is-how- to-prioritize-the-good-targets- 3e684cfa9a95)

Know when adjustments are needed and make them quickly and swiftly. Don’t wait until things start to unravel uncontrollably before taking action. Be agile, be nimble, and be responsive. There are many unknowns associated with expanding into a new market. It is essential that you are continually feeding yourself data.

Also, even when things appear to be going well, be sure to continually audit your successes and your failures and be prepared to act suddenly. Ideally, you will be able to stay ahead of potential problems and avoid significant pitfalls before you reach a crisis level.

Chapter 10: Expanding Operations

As you can see from above, the heart of everything you are going to do is contingent upon blending opportunity, thorough research, and capital. If you are going to grow, you will need to account for each of these, and you will need to find a way to integrate them into one another.

All those elements are important, but capital is the engine that allows expansion to move forward. If an opportunity opens up, but you don’t have the means to exploit it, your growth plans are over before they start. ACCA Global argues that the key to growth lies in the successful integration of financing with other crucial business development segments. To that end, new growth relies on thoughtful planning. (https://www.accaglobal.com/content/dam/ ACCA_Global/Technical/smb/ea-ready-for- growth.pdf)

"Alongside this, in order to fully contribute to the business development as well as operational processes, the finance function has a key role to play in monitoring and controlling high growth as it unfolds, as well as forecasting future trends and possible new directions for the business, on the basis of present and historical financial data," reads information from ACCA Global.

As such, financing is both the catalyst and the container of growth. It is the vessel through which all growth is possible, and those responsible for managing it have an integral role to play in potential expansion.

"By holding these key responsibilities, the finance function extends well beyond the traditional accountancy and processing role, becoming a central rather than auxiliary presence, and an essential element in the strategic decision making of a high-growth business," reads information from ACCA Global.

Global expansion and proper financing, as such, are intimately related. There cannot be growth without a detailed, thoughtful financing plan underlying that growth. In reality, you should be planning your growth from day one. Taking advantage of international markets should be nothing more than an extension of expansion ambitions already baked into your business model. They only difference being appropriate language, marketing, personnel, and logistical considerations.

In addition to the critical role that financing plays, you should also give another crucial element its due consideration — communication. We briefly mentioned communication earlier, but it warrants much more explicit consideration here. Communication, in general, is the nervous system to finance's skeletal structure.

Consider information from Smarp about the importance and proper communication in business. (https://blog.smarp.com/11- reasons-why-business-communication-is- crucial-for-companys-success)

"Effective business communication is how employees and management interact among each other to reach organizational goals and be more aligned with the core company values. Its main purpose is to improve organizational practices, eliminate silos, keep employees informed, and reduce errors," reads information from the blog. "Effective business communication is essential for success and growth of every organization. Unlike everyday communications, business communication is always goal-oriented."

However, they note that data shows fully 60% of internal communication pros don't measure it at all. This is shocking. They also found that 39% of employees don’t think there is enough "collaboration between people in their organization."

Information from Smarp also indicated that strong communication practices are especially critical concerning remote employees. This matters because working remotely is becoming increasingly normalized. According to information from the Global Mobile Workforce Forecast Update, as cited by Smarp, it is estimated that more than 40% of the global working population is expected to be mobile by 2022. Moreover, in developed places like the U.S., that figure could reach 75% in short order.

"This means a new kind of communications, leadership and management approach is required. Coordinating across time zones, information silos and overcoming language and cultural barriers are just a few communication challenges remote teams face. Besides, distance often makes it harder for team members to feel like a team," reads information from their study.

Simply put, they said, better internal communications channels can have great value to individuals working remotely. Grant Thornton echoes that sentiment.

"Once up and running, leaders need to make sure that operations can continue without disruption. Managing operations remotely can be a challenge despite the wide variety of communication tools that allow for regular and flexible reporting," they said. "In some instances, you may need to make technology investments so that operations in your new market run as efficiently as possible, and that reporting channels and technology platforms align with your headquarters." (https://www.grantthornton.global/en/insights/articles/checklist-for-international- growth/)

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Communication considerations will depend mainly on the management and personnel decisions you made at launch. How much responsibility have you put in the hands of teams on the ground? How much crossover between staff will there be from one market to another? How active will you be in the day-to-day operations at the new location? The answers to these questions will dictate your technological needs.

Lastly, outside of finance and communication, Grant Thornton points out that reporting requirements and other back-office work can become a distraction from moving forward if they are not adequately addressed. It is essential to have the necessary internal resources for things like payroll administration, compliance, and needed filings concerning international organizations as well.

"How will you manage remote operations and what operational risk management processes need to be set up? What reporting regimes are required? What sustainability credentials will you be able to deliver in your new market?" posits Grant Thornton.

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In Sum:

We have now touched upon all the essential elements needed to plan and execute a triumphant global expansion. Your work, though, is just getting started. While the enormity of scope for such an operation is apparent, the endgame is achievable with the right approach and unwavering commitment to do what needs to be done at every stage of the operation.

Bite-sized chunks will win the day. Do each step well and don't cut corners. The stronger your planning and preparation are, the easier your execution will be when the time comes. Ultimately, your success will come down to you making thoughtful, objective decisions at every phase of expansion.

Don’t be afraid to make the tough calls necessary, and if something isn't working out, be equally bold to change gears and move on. Don’t force something that isn't effective. There will be other markets, other opportunities, additional incentives, and other investments to make down the road. The key to successful growth is identifying the right opportunity and striking swiftly and with conviction. This only works if you have done your homework and made sure this move is at the right time and in the right market for your business.

A Note About COVID-19: Obviously, there are huge question marks around what will happen shortly as we continue to fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. This guide offers a ton of expert advice, and much of it applies universally to business interests at home and abroad, even under the worst circumstances. With that said, though, there are myriad obstacles that continue to crop up daily as a result of this unpredictable pandemic. Sadly, there may be certain parts of this guide that are unrealistic to consider at this time.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have derailed imminent expansion plans for your business. Don’t be discouraged, in any case. Governments across the world are working toward renormalizing international commerce, and promising treatments and vaccines are being developed around the clock. Your opportunity will come!

Take the information in this guide and use it as a building block for future expansion. The information in this e-Book complied with forward-thinking intentions. It isn't called "2021 Edition: The Definitive Guide to Global Expansion for Finance Professionals" for no reason! All business owners should remember an essential element to success discussed throughout this e-Book: patience.

A healthier, more resilient global economy is on the horizon. Be prepared to engage with it as soon as the environment allows. The best way you can go about doing that is by thinking about the ways you might apply some of the information and recommendations provided in this e-Book next year, or the year after that. Preparation and planning are always advisable. Plan, plan, and then plan some more. And, when you are done, keep planning!

Lastly, in closing, remember that you have at your disposal an enormity of resources, alternatives, and potential paths to success no matter how many obstacles are thrown in your way. Lean on your key advisors, staff, trusted confidants, partners, and other professionals when necessary. You don’t have to make this leap alone. You can't. So, when the time comes to call on another's expertise or experience, do so and listen authentically to what they have to say.

Global expansion is a big deal, and it's going to take a significant effort. Be sure you give yourself the best chance to succeed and listen to those around you who can be helpful. Especially now, at a time of great uncertainty and strife, use the resources that you have available to you, human or otherwise. It will make all the difference when the time finally comes to leap across the border.

Good luck, owners, business managers, CFOs, COOs, and all the endeavouring entrepreneurs who are thinking big! Success and growth are right around the globe — all that's left is to do it.