How to Promote Your Business Abroad?

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The world is changing. There are a lot of countries coming online and a lot of non-western consumers have a growing paycheck that they’re looking to spend. For that reason, it makes sense to want to take your business abroad.

If that’s what you’re interested in doing, then obviously you’re going to need a few guidelines to help you make sure that you’re going about it the right way. Here we’ll explore some of the most important questions you should ask yourself before you take the plunge.

Will your product sell there?

When we don’t have a lot of experience with foreign cultures we assume they must basically be like ourselves but speak a foreign language. Often, it’s not that simple. People have different interests, different values, are at different levels of development and so on. This means companies who succeed at home might not do so well abroad.  

For that reason, before you do anything else you have to find out if there is actually a demand for your product in the market you’re considering entering. Once you’ve established that there is, you have to find out what kind of people they are.

For example, you might find that though there is a large amount of interest for your product, it’s in an entirely different market from the one back home. Sometimes products which are middle of the road at home are seen as luxury products in the new market.

Do they know about your product?

If they don’t, then that means it’s going to take a lot of investment to get you off the ground. You’ll have to educate people as to what your product offers and you might even have to create the need in the first place.

At the same time, if you are new to a market, that means you can position yourself wherever you want. You can turn your product into a luxury product, for example. Even better, it the market has never even heard of your product, then you can make your brand and your product synonymous in the minds of your new market. That will make it far harder for others to displace you.

Can you get along with the people there?

This question is important on two levels. On level one, you’ll spend a lot of time there so it’s important that you can make sure that when you do you won’t absolutely hate it. That is more important than you think, as frustration and annoyances can pile up and lead to rash decisions or not spending enough time on the new supply chain to make sure things function properly.

On another level, you’ll have to recruit people from that culture to help with a large number of things. If they don’t speak your language, you’ll need to rely on employees from the world's leading translation service to get your message across. If things grow substantially, you might even need to hire managers from that culture.

That means that if you find it hard to work with people from that culture, you’ll also find it hard to work with those employees. That will make things more difficult in the long run.

How reliable is the infrastructure and the work?

We’re used to having hot water on demand, electricity 24 hours a day and a constant internet connection. That’s not always the case in other countries. Sometimes things work much slower. Sometimes they don’t work at all. Similarly, the standards of work in certain areas might be lower than you’re used to, which in turn impacts the product that you’re delivering.

Check up on these things and make sure that you have alternatives in mind for those countries where it’s hard to get reliable service. For example, you might have to invest in backup generators, or send over your own specialists to not only train staff but possibly permanently stay there to monitor the work of employees.

What about the political climate?

Another thing we don’t spend a great deal of time thinking about is how some governments are inept, kleptocracies or unstable. This can lead to all sorts of problems. For example, in some countries it can take years to get the licenses you’ll need in order to run your company. In other places you’ll have to pay bribers just to keep the police off your back. And then there is the risk of a government being overthrown (possibly violently) and the country becoming impossible to work in.

This can seriously hinder your plans and your profits. The thing is, a reading of the newspapers is often not enough to form an accurate picture of how risky or easy a country is to work in. You have to speak to people actually doing business in the country to get an accurate assessment of the situation on the ground.

And then you move forward

There are a lot of things to think about when you want to start a business in a foreign country. The truth is, the first time you do so you might be best off trying to start up in a culture which is at least similar to your own. That means if you’re American you’ll want to focus on cultures which interact a great deal with Americans. This could be Europeans, Canadians or Latin Americans, for example.

What you should not do is see this list and despair of ever moving abroad. Yes, there are a lot of warning lights. But there always are with the biggest opportunities. The trick isn’t not to try, but to make sure you are properly informed when you do. Answering these questions will help you do just that.

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