10 International Expansion Mistakes That Will Sink Your Business

All businesses want to grow and expand. And for many, the lure of finding overseas markets is strong. After all, look how many Chinese businesses have expanded into the U.S. and are making a “killing” selling their products. Surely you can do the same thing. Just set up a website in a foreign language, feature your products, and voila – orders come rolling in.

Not so fast.

Expanding overseas demands a lot of research, time, energy, commitment on the part of your team, and, yes, money. Many businesses have jumped into overseas markets and have failed miserably. You don’t have to be one of them if you avoid these common mistakes.

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1. Expansion For The Wrong Reasons

Exactly what does this mean? Precisely this: if you are looking to expand overseas to boost a business that is flailing at home, and you think you can make some fast money somewhere else, think again. Businesses that are successful with their overseas expansions understand that they are in it for the long-haul. It takes time to spread a brand in a foreign market and to develop a customer base. Profitability is a long-term process.

2. Failure To Research The Market Thoroughly

There may be a sound market for your product in your home country. What is the comparable demographic in a foreign market you are considering? There are certainly a number of countries with a rapidly expanding middle class – people who are actively seeking consumer goods. But maybe not yours. Conducting enough market research in a country you are considering may involve using some local pros, but it will be well worth it in the end. Time, energy and money spent expanding into a bad market will be a “killer.”

3. Mistakes In Localization Marketing

Websites, blogs, social media – all are tools for marketing in our native land. But when we attempt to move those same efforts into a foreign market, there are some critical cultural considerations. Localizing a website and translating content correctly requires consultation with natives of that target market.

One of the things that many business owners do is contract with companies like The Word Point online translation service that employs natives in multiple countries to provide website localization and content translation. Because they have the cultural awareness that you do not, they will be able to advise you and help to ensure that all of your site and your content is appropriate for the target audience. And many businesses employ website designers in the target country.

4. Failure To Research Local Laws And Regulations

More than one business has failed to meet the legal requirements to do business in a foreign country. And those laws and regulations are continually changing. And those laws and regulations can relate to online businesses too. For example: recently, the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in the EU.

Any online business operating within that area must conform to its requirements about consumer privacy and must have posted policies regarding privacy protection. And there are some countries that block access of their citizens to certain businesses selling certain products or services. If you don’t do your homework here, you are in for trouble.

5. Failure To Configure Shipping Arrangements

Believe it or not, many a company has moved into overseas markets without a plan for shipping, returns, and exchanges, etc. Do not open your doors anywhere without having this fully set up in advance. If you are scrambling at the last minute to get shipments out, you will have unhappy customers who will not return.

6. Not Running A Lead Generation Campaign

All of the research in the world is not equal to an actual litmus test. If you do not test your ability to get leads, you will not know how much interest there really is in your product. You should craft a landing age and purchase some local advertising. See what the response is over a period of time, not just days. Remember, expanding into a foreign market takes time and patience.

7. Not Sizing Up The Competition

You will have both local and other international competition. Again, this takes some research and probably some local expertise in the target country. Finding marketing pros in the target country will be invaluable in getting the information you need. Just be prepared to spend a little money.

8. Scrimping On Local Talent

No business can be successful without hiring some local talent – especially marketers and networkers. They do not come cheap, and trying to cut costs in this area is a huge mistake. Locate the best you can find – it will be worth it in the long run.

9. Not Physically Going There

You do need to go the cost of at least one trip to the target country, even if your business is solely online. You will need to meet face-to-face with the local talent you intend to use, to network, and to develop a better understanding of the culture.

10. Not Having A Comprehensive Plan

This is a combination of all of the previous mistakes. The only way to make a success of a foreign expansion is to spend lots of time in the pre-planning phase, this means that there are short-term, medium, and long-term goals; it means that the local team is on board; it means that the right due diligence takes place in terms of research and finding the right local talent to face the competition and spread your brand.

Global expansion is a given. We live in a much smaller world than we have ever lived in before. Businesses are reaching far and wide to foreign markets, and many are achieving success. Getting into these markets can be lucrative, but achieving that profit and ROI means doing it right, being patient, and letting the growth occur gradually. Gradual growth is sustainable.

Author Bio: Margaret Reid is a freelance writer who is seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth. Currently, she`s working in the company The Word Point and trying to improve herself in the blogging career. Margaret is an experienced and self-driven specialist who cannot imagine her life without writing.

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