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How to Expand Your Business Beyond National Borders

Part of your vision as an entrepreneur is to see your small business take off, and entering international markets solidifies the success of your brand. By setting up a presence outside the UK, you have greater flexibility to pursue innovation and develop a thriving business model. However, getting there requires more than just vision. It's an uphill challenge, but you will eventually find that expanding internationally is a worthwhile gamble. You just need to follow the right steps.

1. Start by networking

The success of your expansion depends on the quality of your network. You will need to build relationships with potential partners in target countries. To be able to do that, you need to start locally. Form partnerships with local brands, join the local chamber of commerce and attend events where you can enrich your network further. As your connections grow, so does your maturity and readiness for expansion. It's best that you work towards building clout and introducing your business to the global playing field.

2. Find financial sources

Expanding across borders is a costly investment. You need to take the cost of logistics, regulatory fees, and other expenses into account. If you don't have enough to bankroll your plans, you can always apply for startup loans of up to £25,000 from the British Business Bank. If you think you need more for your initial investment, compare traditional business loans from among the country's leading lenders. Beyond loans, you can also apply for government-backed grants if your business is focused on innovation.

3. Map out the market

Before setting up your presence in the target country, you need to understand the regulatory environment and the local market. Sound research is needed if you want to steer clear of legal challenges, so map out the situation and conduct a feasibility study. You will also need a local attorney who specializes in preparing the international setup of a corporation and negotiating commercial leases. It also helps to reach out to your international partners who can be your eyes and ears on the ground. Doing your research and getting help with compliance will guarantee your long-term success.

4. Consider the cultural landscape

Perhaps the most profound challenge you need to hurdle during the process is the cultural and language divide. Regardless if you're in a country where English is dominant, you will need to adjust your approaches in order to coincide with the local market, especially if you are sourcing your workforce from the native population. This is crucial as you train supervisors and managers in operating your international presence. Such training must involve showing sensitivity to the local culture, speaking in the language, and being familiar with local practices in the workplace.

You will feel a sense of uncertainty as you go through the motions of expanding your business. However, there is still a good chance of pulling off your plan and opening the way for further expansion. So long as you go through it carefully, building a global business becomes even more certain.

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