Going global and catering to international customers is easier to do these days, especially with improved distribution channels, better payment support, and the vibrant e-commerce landscape that we have today. As a business owner, you can choose to cater to business customers from other parts of the world, work with wholesalers and distributors, and even deal with individual customers directly.
While going global and taking your business to the next level is easy, the move isn’t something you want to take lightly. A lot of preparations are still needed for the move to be successful. There will be challenges to face and obstacles to overcome along the way. To help you prepare your business better for its first international customer, here are the best tips and tricks to keep in mind.
Understand Why You Want to Go Global
The first thing you need to do is understand your goals. What are you trying to achieve by going global and opening your doors to international customers? There are several good reasons why catering to international customers is good for the business.
For starters, Northern Ireland is a great place for an international business. There are a lot of positive regulations that will support your big leap. The infrastructure supporting the move is also there and ready for you. On top of that, you have easy access to potential customers in Europe and other parts of the world with the help of the internet.
Going international is also a way to extend the lifespan of your products and services. When the domestic market is saturated, turning to the rest of the world and expanding into new markets is the right move to make. You will find new customers – fresh customers – and newfound demand for your products and services in the process.
Set clear objectives as your foundation. Work on formulating strategies to achieve those goals and you will be on the right track to international success. The goals also act as your guidelines in facing future obstacles, so you can always return to the right strategy no matter how tough the going gets.
Understand the Challenges
Making a leap to an international market without understanding the challenges you will face along the way is the worst mistake you can make in this situation. Entering the market blind isn’t how you penetrate new and potential markets. You need to take the time to fully understand the market and the challenges that lie ahead.
There are some challenges indeed. Finding the right target market for your products and services is perhaps the biggest of them all. A product that works really well with domestic customers doesn’t always work well with international customers. There are additional aspects to understand your target customers, including culture and other personal factors.
Branding is another challenge you will face. You may have that familiarity and strong brand image in your local market, but reaching the same level of prominence internationally isn’t going to be easy. You need a good marketing strategy and persistence.
It is easy to see how understanding the challenges you will face can really help you formulate contingency plans and the right strategies for your big move. You will be more prepared for the market you are entering, giving you the ability to move calmly and react with calculation whenever a new challenge hits.
Create a Clear Business Plan
Speaking about having plans, making a business plan is also an important step to take before going global. Unfortunately, this is a step that many businesses still skip, and it is often the main cause of failure. A business plan gives you an even clearer picture of how to achieve your objectives, along with details about your ability to endure the new market.
A business plan also includes a forecast and milestones to achieve. As you venture further into the international market, these milestones act as indicators to measure your success. They work as a risk management instrument. You can choose to take a step back and rethink your strategies when certain milestones are not achieved.
Lastly, a clear business plan allows you to limit your risks even further by setting a clear budget for the expansion. How much can you afford to spend to get the business to the international stage? How does that budget look when compared to your competitors? The more you fine-tune your business plan, the more prepared you are.
Prepare the Business
Another step that many businesses and business owners often skip is preparing the business itself. Just because you have an effective and efficient operation that works really well domestically, it doesn’t mean you will be able to handle international customers as easily. It is still necessary to strengthen the business’s core by taking a number of steps.
Employee development is the first of many steps you can take to prepare the business for its international expansion. Employees need to know how to handle a sudden influx of orders, how to deal with customers from different countries, and how to adjust to the new scope of the business. Language courses and short courses on specific skills are invaluable when you’re trying to prepare employees for the bigger market.
Fortunately, you have internet on your side when it comes to preparing employees. When it comes to finding good language courses for customer support executives, for instance, you can use this website to find language courses and simplify the whole process. The same can be said for short courses and other development programs.
Nail Your Financing
One last thing to focus on before making a big leap to the international market is financial management. Maintaining a healthy cash flow and being able to finance the move is very important, especially when you are venturing into an entirely new market. If you receive 1,000 additional orders on the first day, you need to be extra certain that you can fulfill those orders without jeopardizing the business.
With the economy booming, financing a move to an international market is not difficult at all. There are a lot of options to choose from, along with alternatives – unconventional financing options – that are now a couple of clicks away. For example, you can choose to crowdsource the entire move and raise money through crowdfunding. You can also use digital assets as leverage when talking to potential investors and financial institutions.
Finance is important because it has the potential of breaking or making your international leap. There have been plenty of cases where businesses were forced to retreat to their domestic market due to the lack of marketing budget or money for other posts. Money isn’t the primary resource to lean on, but it is an important resource for your business nonetheless.
One last tip to remember before your big move: persevere. Only a handful of businesses completed their international move with success on the first day. The rest of the pack has to wait for months – even years – before the switch to selling internationally pays off. That said, you have these tips to help you prepare better for your first international customer. It is only a matter of time before you can start shipping to multiple countries on a regular basis.