Some of Our Best Strategy Practices
International business expansion is about growth. Your company may have already chosen one or more international expansion strategies for growing your business; or your business strategy is still to be developed.
Either way, we find many companies approach this from a sales and marketing strategy viewpoint, and to engage market consultants to advise on business growth.
In our experience, the more direct approach once you have identified international expansion as a growth strategy, is to complete an international business development strategy based on sound business, market and technology research. Most competent strategists will start by creating an international business plan which should include a business marketing plan, a creative plan, a product localization plan, marketing communications plan, distribution plan and finally a strategic marketing plan.
When you have some business success, and your revenues are growing, you should consider if expanding internationally might fit well into your broader strategic vision. Today, with the Internet and advanced communication, this is highly feasible without much in the way of business relocation, and even smaller companies can into the game.
The smart play here is to develop a mentality that considers international market expansion as one business growth strategy options. The place to start is by defining your business plan ideas, product localization efforts, business growth plan and forecasts, distribution channel development plan, and business start-up costs.
Strategic Considerations for Expanding Your Business Internationally
Expanding business globally requires different international expansion plans. It is possible to consider a new business strategy and global business strategy, and then work backwards from a global perspective to formulate a more traditional type of business implementation plan.
Here is a checklist of important considerations:
International market entry can be a turbulent ride.The senior leadership team needs to be ready and have bought in to the ride. You should also anticipate it will likely be more difficult than the US ride, with more resistance, obstacles and roadblocks.
Either you’re in or you’re out. Successful international expansion strategies are appropriately resourced, well-funded, and have a committed leadership team behind them. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is only going half-in. So it is important to have a very compelling reason driving the strategy to enter a new international market.
Land somewhere that gives you a reasonable chance of some wins in a reasonable period of time. The key to building momentum is getting quick wins in an international market and finding a place to build a scalable expansion model.
Repeatedly recreating the wheel can be costly. The most successful business development teams have figured out how to turn the market identification and evaluation process into a scalable and repeatable experiment. Plan, watch, listen and learn.
Fail fast and learn from it. Successful growth strategies require a company learn how to get results (including negative ones) early, and have established processes for doing so. They start by measuring ‘experiments’ immediately and develop a regular review process for evaluating their progress on each ‘experiment’ or champion/challenger approach. The purpose of this process is to minimize the resource costs of learning about new markets and give the team more chances to get it right.
Think it, but don’t over-think it. It’s easy to get lost in analysis paralysis determining where to go. There are a lot of factors to consider (political climate, regulatory environment, cost of localization, etc.). There will always be a lot of uncertainty in the selection process, so don’t over-think which target to go after. You will learn more from the first couple of data points collected through an experimentation process than in the whole identification process. This is in part of the of developing strategy options.
Don’t be a glutton. Enter one new international market at a time. Occasionally, there might be a major strategic reason that compels you to do otherwise. You should really only dive into a market if you’re confident you can be a top tier player. Remember, you will likely only get one chance to enter on the ground, so you need to enter with a bang and do it at the right time. If you’re not confident you can be one of the top three players, then the cost of entering may outweigh the return.
Consider strategic partnerships. Establishing a reseller relationship or a referral relationship or a referral partner in a market of interest is typically the best way to aggressively test an entry without fully committing to it. The reason for this is that you typically only have one chance to enter a market and channel partners are great ways of testing whether it’s ready. Many markets may have interesting cultural dynamics that make being local or having someone in person necessary to participate. Knowing these factors before testing is important.
Curiosity is key. Most of what you do not know about a market can be uncovered with thorough market and cultural research along with a couple meetings with partners, former competitor employees, or prospects. Consequently, market research and market observations are an important step in the evaluation process.
Re-wrapping products rarely works in international markets.Typically, you will need to localize the product and its value proposition to be a top player in the space.
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