There are nearly six million businesses propping up the UK economy, with almost all of them being classed as SMEs – or small to medium enterprises.
If your business is thriving at home, it may be time to start thinking about heading overseas to replicate it.
The promise of the benefits that opening up new markets can lead to some rushing into a decision, but it more often than not pays off in the long-term to take a more measured approach, bearing several factors in mind.
Determine your market
Does your product or service have a strong enough market to justify expansion abroad? If your business relies on the English language, are there enough countries in native-speaking nations to make sure your profits keep rolling in?
Something that has a great purpose in the UK – say, a portable umbrella – might not be so useful to someone who lives in a different climate. Do your market research first to be sure.
Secure the right finance
Once you’ve done all your research, you should have an idea of what kind of outlay you will need to go overseas. You might have to invest in property or infrastructure, which is never cheap.
If you need to secure additional funding to crack a new territory, lenders such as Merchant Money can provide you with a platform from which to thrive.
Take it steady
OK, you know where you want to expand, how much it will cost, and everything that you need. But just take it steady.
You might have identified multiple markets with a need for your goods or services, but it doesn’t mean you need to invest in them all immediately.
Raising the stakes by expanding too quickly can put a serious strain on your existing business – which, don’t forget, you’ll still need to run.
By going market by market, you’ll find that your expansion follows a more natural roadmap and keeps the pressure off the parts of your business that are already working smoothly.
Commit to it
Although taking things steady is advisable in some respects, you’ve got to properly go for it if you’re to make a success of your expansion.
If you’re moving into a market that speaks another language – learn it! You may even benefit from moving to your chosen country, or at least spending considerable time there.
Once you understand the local culture more, you’ll be better served in utilising it for the benefit of you and your brand.
Check, check and check again
If you are moving abroad to support your business’ expansion, you must be aware of all the implications that has for yourself and your company. There will be tax implications to be aware of, while you may well have a full set of new regulations to get your head around if you are operating in a new country.
Doing your homework before setting off will mean you can concentrate on business once you make the move.