How to Expand Your Business Internationally: It All Starts with the Right Partners.

Thanks to the Internet, digital technology, and resources like reliable business translation services, the world is becoming smaller. And many businesses, especially in digital fields, are wisely seizing the opportunity to expand overseas. If your business is one of them, you will want to do your research before diving in.

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But even with proper planning, running an international business can be challenging. The failure to plan sufficiently, expanding too quickly, and assuming that all business around the world is conducted in English are all mistakes that can easily kill your dream of taking your brand international.

Keep in mind that it takes far more time to fix problems that you create for yourself than to take the time to plan and do it right the first time. To avoid these pitfalls, it’s a good idea to start developing key contacts in countries where you want to do business as soon as possible.

Here are some recommendations for where to start:

1. Financial partnerships. 

First, prepare for expansion by creating an international business plan to assess your funding needs and set reasonable goals. This is a crucial step to take before youdo anything else. Be sure to evaluate your readiness and commitment to grow globally before you embark on this new endeavor.

As with any business growth plan, expanding internationally requires sufficient funds. One popular source of financing for US businesses expanding overseas is the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Ex-Im Bank guarantees working capital loans for US exporters and repayment of loans to foreign purchasers of US goods and services.

Beyond our own shores, look for government and private sources of funding in your target markets and figure out ways to ensure that you get paid in full. This can be a real issue depending on which markets you decide to target. But foreign governments with an interest in boosting international commerce can do a lot to make sure you get paid on time and easily. If business is conducted in a language other than English, find credible business translation services to translate your business plan and financial documents.

Regardless of which financial partnerships you choose to cultivate, whenever you go into meetings with potential foreign business partners, it’s smart to have your own business translation services. If the other party provides the interpreter, for instance, that person will have their interests in mind not yours. Whether you hire an interpreter for face-to-face meetings or use a phone translation service, make sure you have business translation services with a special focus on financial translation on your side during any negotiation.

2. Marketing partnerships.

Another key partnership will be building relationships with marketers in foreign lands. To identify the key markets and distribution methods in the regions where you want to do business, you will want to develop strong partnerships with marketing research firms abroad.

If you are ready to start selling your products around the world, you will first want to answer a couple of key questions:

  • Will the product sell well in the targeted culture? Figuring out the answer to this question will take market research. You’ll want to partner with a marketing firm in your target market that knows how to conduct that research.
  • Does your target market know about your product? If you have to invest a lot in education, this is something to consider early in the expansion process. On the other hand, if you’re the first to introduce your product to this market, it could be great for business.

Again, as you create marketing partnerships abroad, especially in markets where English is not the primary language for doing business, it makes sense to use business translation services provided by experts you can trust.

To ensure that your questions are asked and answered to your satisfaction, you will want an interpreter who is well versed in the target language, as well as marketing products similar to yours. There is nothing worse than paying for strong market research that is not useable because of a language barrier.

3. Foreign Distribution partnerships.

 The same warnings about finding financial and marketing partners also apply to finding a distribution partner. In fact, this can be the most challenging. But if you can find reliable foreign distributors, they can make doing business overseas a lot easier because they will buy your products and take care of reselling them in their domestic markets. If they buy enough of your product to build up their inventories, you have less to worry about on your end.

The first few times you evaluate foreign distributors it makes sense to find an international business expert or consultant. These experts can offer valuable insights. Trade groups and organizations in the US, like the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, are a good place to start your search for help with finding the right foreign distributor.

To do the work yourself, look for a distributor that can provide salespeople knowledgeable about the technical aspects of your products and one with a proven track record in your market. But, again, the distribution game is a complex one, so make sure you have the guidance of an experienced expert.

Other tips for smoother international operations:

Whether you are hiring internationally, working with clients abroad, or partnering with other companies around the world, there are some general tips to consider for keeping operations running smoothly.

1. Be patient.

In the fast-paced world of digital business, we are used to everything happening at near lightning speed. But in the international realm it is important to appreciate cultural differences and adjust your expectations accordingly. It can take time to earn the trust of people from different cultures and to learn their customs. A patient approach will be especially well received by senior executives, those operating large organizations, and government officials in your target markets.

2. Respect customs.

When it comes to earning people’s trust, there’s no substitute for learning about their culture and being open to trying new things. Sharing a common experience with your colleagues will help them begin to recognize you as part of their team. This can be as simple as enjoying a delicious cup of tea at the customary time.

Food and the cultural customs surrounding dining is another good example. If you walk into a fine French restaurant in Paris hoping to order a hamburger, your associates will see you as, at best, unadventurous and at worst, downright discourteous. So try the goulash or the fugu and have an authentic local experience.

3. Enjoy the experience.

If you are traveling overseas representing your organization, don’t pass on the opportunity to socialize and enjoy the cultural experience. One of the best ways to learn about a culture and gain the trust of your international colleagues is to take time to go to events with your foreign colleagues and associates.

Not unlike doing business in the US, socializing gives you a chance to meet other people that could open new doors and build your reputation in the community. Seek out business networking functions such as wine tastings, government balls, river cruises, and visits to the countryside. Enjoy some personal development time while you work on your business!

Why go global?

Expanding your company internationally may not be the best way to grow your business. But entering the international arena can protect you against declines in domestic markets and increase growth potential for the right products and services. With the right planning and due diligence, the international market can be very lucrative.

Our experts at Alpha Omega are dedicated to making the process of taking your business global easier. That’s why we are proud to partner with the VEDP to offer business translation services to Virginia businesses through the VALET program. To find out more about how AOT can help you grow, contact us for a custom quote.


Category: Translation Services

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