How To Launch An Overseas Business The Right Way

Most businesses dream of one day going international. But even if you are in a position to execute such a move, if you don’t plan properly, it will end in disaster.

Here’s what you need to do to take your business overseas successfully.

Set Out Your Vision

Launching an overseas business or expanding your existing business to a new market is a major operation. If you want it to go off without a hitch, you need to be clear on your vision beforehand. The best way of doing this is to ask yourself some simple questions.

Why?

Everything you do with business should have a purpose. Acting aimlessly or without purpose is a sure-fire way to trip yourself up and waste time and money.

Before you embark on an expensive and risky overseas move, you need to know why you are doing it. There is no right or wrong answer here, any more than there’s a right or wrong answer as to why you started a business to begin with. Only you can assess your motivations and whether your proposed course of action is a worthwhile one. However, you need to be honest with yourself about your motives.

What?

Once you have established your overseas presents, what will you do in the new country? Your overseas plans might be as simple as opening a branch in another country so you can reach new audiences. Or, you might have a grand plan for world domination, and this is the launchpad from which you will invade the rest of the world. You need a plan of action so you can hit the ground running in your new market.

Where?

Unless you are planning an expansion into Lichtenstein, a country is a big target. You need to know precisely where you will be basing your overseas operations. In some countries, one part of the nation can differ dramatically from another in terms of the local culture and attitudes. A successful overseas expansion will depend upon you choosing the right part of the country for your business. It’s worth researching trending locations such as Singapore or even Canada.

Who?

Managing a major operation like an overseas expansion on your own is a pretty tall order. It is essential that you have the right people on your side to make it a success. Local contacts in your target market are always helpful. But it is equally important to have an effective team working with you back home.

When?

Part of your planning for opening overseas should involve setting yourself a timescale. Any experienced business person knows that vague plans lead to unreliable results. If you don’t set yourself hard targets and milestones and try to force yourself to stick to them, it is easy for your expansion to drag on for far longer than it needs to. The longer the process goes on, the more it will cost you.

How?

This question is the most important of them all. Once you know what you want to achieve and over what timescale, you then need to define exactly how you will do it. It is worth putting together an entirely new business plan for your overseas operations that is separate from your plans for your main business.

Set A Localization Strategy

Localization can be a relatively straightforward process or an unbelievably complex one. Part of it will come down to how well you prepare beforehand. But one of the most significant factors in determining how the new market responds to your business will be your localization strategy.

In its most simple form, localizing your business means translating any relevant documents and websites into the local language. But a more comprehensive localization strategy will also encompass things like how to adjust your corporate culture for a new market, and how to market your products and services to a new audience.

Recon Your Target

Market research is an essential part of the preparation process for launching a new business. It is also the first thing you should do once you have made the decision to expand into a new market. This research is essential for understanding the market you are heading into and the people that comprise it.

First and foremost, you need to get to grips with the local regulatory climate. Falling foul of local laws and regulations can cost your business significantly in terms of both money and reputation. Not only do you need to stay on the right side of the regulations; you also need to know what the local tax regime is like and what employment laws are.

You will also need to know what the local employment laws are. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, find it helpful to hire a professional employment organisation to handle their local hiring. A professional employer organisation will serve as the employer of record for your overseas workers, as well as handling the majority of your human resources and admin obligations.

Set An Appropriate Budget

Any major business operation requires proper funding. Before you can allocate funds for your expansion appropriately, you need to set yourself a detailed budget. This budget should breakdown all the costs associated with your overseas move as precisely as possible.

A lack of funds is going to make it difficult or impossible for your expansion to achieve its goals. On the other hand, if you overestimate your costs, you run the risk of putting more money than you can realistically afford into your plans. You need to set a sensible and realistic budget before you start moving money around.

Find Local Partners To Work With

It’s hard to overstate just how different two different markets can be. There are noticeable differences between some countries – language, currency, culture, religion, and many more characteristics – vary dramatically from one society to the next. But there are also plenty of commonalities that we can observe on both a regional and global level.

However, within the realm of business, there are numerous subtle differences that you need to factor in when launching or expanding overseas. Visiting another country or culture is a vastly different proposition to opening a business there. Opening a business in a new country is more like moving there to live than to visit, but even this doesn’t fully capture the complexities of the process.

An overseas expansion is a big commitment. It isn’t something you should be contemplating if you aren’t prepared to commit to it. Unless you or someone on your team has the first-hand experience of your new market, it is sensible to work alongside local partners to ensure everything proceeds smoothly.

Businesses like New Horizons can assist you with your overseas move in a variety of ways. For example, if you are planning an expansion into Hong Kong, they can assist you with Hong Kong company formation. There are numerous reasons you might want to consider a Hong Kong company formation service like New Horizons. They can assist you in setting up a local bank account to handle any revenue you generate there, as well as providing bookkeeping, finance, and accounting services.

As long as you aren’t overzealous in your expansion plans and you prepare properly, taking your business overseas doesn’t have to be a risky or expensive process. However, if you fail to prepare appropriately, you will be headed for disaster. Follow the advice above, and you should have no trouble.

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan