5 Tips on How to Expand Your Business Internationally

You’re a small athletic wear company but you will take down Nike someday. This has been your goal from day one, and nothing will get in the way of your dreams. Good. Everyone should have that determination, but Nike is a global brand. Do you have what it takes to become a global brand? If you have the mindset just discussed, you probably do, and the first thing you should do is write a detailed global expansion business plan. This isn’t your everyday business plan. This is a business plan on steroids. Here are few things to include in the plan to ensure your dominance over Nike.

1. Learn Each Overseas Market

Part of any business plan is demographic research, and you must learn about every overseas market to which you plan to introduce your product. Depending on what you sell, your athletic wear will do better in some nations than others. Imagine you sell fencing equipment. France would be a much better market for this than China. Even if you sell athletic wear and equipment for numerous sports, you will find that one product will do well in one location and not the other. Determine the country in which you’d like to expand first, and then conduct comprehensive demographic research that tells you what the consumers in that country buy most. Gather appropriate marketing data, too, to ensure your marketing campaigns are an immediate success rather than a huge bomb.

2. Get to Know the Culture

This means get to know each culture. What’s funny in the States is considered rude in other parts of the world. What’s funny in other parts of the world… well, you get it. You must have a full understanding of each culture before you attempt to tap into it. This goes beyond finding a bilingual person capable of creating marketing and packaging in the appropriate language. Cultural research means looking into a nation’s history, current conditions, and its etiquette. Did you know it is considered offensive to tip in Japan? These are the little things that could get you into trouble once you expand overseas, so get to know the customs and belief systems of the people in each nation.

3. Understand All Rules and Regulations

Don’t forget about the rules and regulations, either. You must have a complete grasp of how businesses are expected to run in other nations. SjamsulNursalim is an Indonesian business tycoon who has expanded his operations to Singapore. Although both nations are Asian, there are different business regulations in each land. Nursalim initially made his $830 million through retail investment in Indonesia. Nursalim holds a portion of Mitra Adiperkasa Iperkasa in his home country. This retailer is home to stores for global brands such as Steve Madden. Nursalim expanded into Singapore to tap into its growing real estate development market. When you’re ready to tap into another market, learn the laws of the land. Make certain you can legally operate within each country without fail.

4. Find Out About the Perks

Many countries offer benefits for foreign businesses. This is why so many American brands go global. Not only do they get to tap into 96 percent of the world’s consumer demographic, they also receive benefits from the nation housing their offices or stores. As you research each nation you are considering for your business expansion, look into what they’ll give you to come over there. Many nations offer tremendous incentives for U.S. companies, so consider moving into those nations first. Find out what each incentive is, and then check with your accountant to make certain the incentives aren’t against any U.S. tax or other laws. The federal government does frown upon certain perks offered to U.S.-based businesses, so don’t cross a line at home or abroad.

5. Look at Your Financials

Finally, sit down with your accountant and go over your business financials. All of your reports should be in tiptop shape. If they aren’t, it isn’t the best time to expand. Although eager to attract U.S. businesses, foreign governments do not want to bring in financially unstable companies, so your financials must be super clean. This includes your business and personal credit reports. You might think the only credit report under review should be your business report, but as CEO of your company, your personal credit may also be taken into account. You can’t blame any foreign government for strict standards. After all, if you open a branch of your business in their nation and it fails, you both lose.

All of this said, perhaps the best tip is to network. Talk with others in your niche and find out if they have expanded abroad. If they have, ask them which countries they’ve opened new locations in and how the expansions went. See if they have any advice for you, and whether they would recommend one country over another. You could ask Nike, but since you’re planning to take them down, they probably won’t offer up information. Now, go take down Nike.