Growing Your Business Abroad


So, your business has been successful here in the US, but do you get the feeling you have achieved all you can? Maybe you’re No.1 in your marketplace, perhaps your takings have plateaued or maybe you’re already receiving interest from overseas or have started selling your wares or your services in foreign countries.

If any or all of these are true, then the next step may be to grow your business overseas. But beware, this isn’t a quick fix for a business that’s failing at home. Make sure your business is in good shape before taking it overseas. If you are taking the plunge, there are plenty of things you need to bear in mind – top of the list must be consulting a currency company like World First.

Is there a place for your business?

Before you start buying office space – which is a lengthy undertaking, with plenty to consider – and hiring staff, ask yourself whether it makes business sense? Will your product or service be of use to people in the new territory you’re looking at? There’s no point putting time and effort into an enterprise that ends up failing, so do your homework and determine whether consumers in other countries will use or need you.

Plan for success

If you come to the decision that you can make it abroad, the next step is to put a solid plan in place. And the thing that will be need to be planned more than any other is your finances. Sort out a plan for working capital, bonds and credit insurance, which will help to reduce financial risk. Think about your currency exchange provision too; exchange rates can fluctuate dramatically in weeks and even days, so getting a great rate and exploring your hedging options is a must – and could save you money. That’s where a currency company comes in; you will almost certainly be able to save money compared to your bank, where the rates are likely to be inferior.

Being there in person

Does your new set up overseas require you to be there yourself? If there’s a particular skill you bring or service you provide to your operation, do you need to be on hand to provide it personally? Would you be able to find the right person to take your business forward in a new territory? Finding the right person or people is key, because, even though it’s your business, and they’ll be reporting to you, they’ll be the face(s) of your business in that country.

Tap into the local knowledge

You won’t be able to do this alone, and the best help you can find will be someone who knows the area and how businesses work within it. Expert help is vital, especially if you’re moving your business into a place you’ve never been yourself. They’ll be able to tell you what you might be able to do to make your business stand out, especially if the competition is crowded (if it is, make sure you know how and what you’re up against). A local expert will also be able to enlighten you as to the cultural differences, and whether your current branding is effective or just plain offensive where you’re going.

Hedge your bets

Setting up a business abroad can be daunting, so consider reducing the risks by starting a partnership. By teaming up with an already established business, you’ll be given a head start, but in order to make it worth the while of the partner, you’ll have to be committed to throwing yourself into it to make it work. Another way of spreading the burden is to make contact with local entrepreneurs that want to join in on your exciting new plan. A small but committed team can ensure the new arm of your business begins smoothly, and once up and running, you can head back home and manage from HQ.

Talk their language

If you’re going to a country that also speaks English, make sure you’ve updated your website with the new local details, how customers can contact you, and so paying is a seamless process. If it’s a non-English speaking country, pay to have your website entirely translated – it will make a huge difference to the credibility of your website.

You can do it!

There’s never going to be a time to expand your business when you won’t be a little nervous. But by making the right contacts, doing exhaustive research and planning and picking the right team to deliver for you, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success.

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