How to go global

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Armando Bartolome
Armando Bartolome

Entrepreneurs who thrive locally may feel it's time to go to the next level — enter the global market.

Going global is like starting any kind of business. It entails many things which you, as an entrepreneur should be able to identify to make your expansion easier.

Not all businesses may be cut for it. Here are a few tips on how a company can find success in the international scene.

  1. Be ready to go to the next level. Study if there is a market for your product or service. Your appeal in the local scene may not be the same internationally. Do a thorough research on potential foreign markets. Make several trips to places where you plan to put up your business. It would also be wise to experience their culture and social norms.
  2. Choose a place where it is almost similar to your local environment. It may be impossible to have the perfect match, but at least choose a place where you are able to target the right people.
  3. Create a team that will focus on the expansion. It is truly difficult to work on expanding a business with only a handful of staff. And with that, you will not be able to sustain your growth internationally. You have two options:
    1. You can train new people in your home country and become part of the international team.
    2. You can hire people from where you are planning to build your business as this would cost you much less than sending local employees abroad.

But before you expand, make sure that you are financially and structurally stable.

CHALLENGES OF TURNING GLOBAL

  • Cultural and language barriers. You may see the potential of your products and services in your chosen country. However, dealing with customers who do not speak your native language can become a hindrance. It is advisable to hire a bilingual staff who can easily translate. We are lucky as Filipinos we have been taught English which gives us an edge over other nationalities. But what if you are expanding to Japan, Middle East or Spain?
  • Compliance Issues. Different countries may require different kinds of labelling and packaging which means that some may require that product descriptions are written in several languages which also mean having your products certified according to each country’s standards.
  • Taxes. We all know that no business can get away from this. It may differ from each state in the United States and all other countries.
  • Building trust. Different people have different ways of running their business. Some may be able to close a deal even with just a phone call. While others, like in China, there might be a need to go on several meetings prior to closing a deal. This just means that for some people, it takes time to build trust.
  • Local competition. For sure there are local businesses in your chosen country that offer almost the same products and services. That is where the toughest challenge is. How will you be able to convince the local market to choose you?

TIPS ON HOW TO START YOUR BUSINESS GLOBALLY

  • Find a partner who has the same goals and ideals as yours, someone who knows and understands your brand, knows the local market and has other businesses that will help leverage resources. Have a clear vision on what kind of person you want as a business partner so you will to avoid being around the wrong people.
  • Hire only the best to create a team of dynamic people. You should be able to know the people who can truly help you grow the business. The people you hire should have a great understanding of the people where your business is.
  • Coming up with new ideas. You must have a careful study when you want to introduce a product by making sure that it has a positive feedback not only from your local customers but as well as your foreign customers. Cultural appropriateness should be the major concern which means giving respect to the values, customs and traditions of the foreign country.
  • Consistent branding is a must but must adapt to the country’s norms and culture. This could mean slight tweaks without sacrificing quality.

You may think that you are ready to enter the big league, but make sure that you have carefully planned all possible scenarios which you may face in the future.

Going global means spending a lot of money and you wouldn’t want to just mess up with it by not being prepared, would you?

(Armando Bartolome is known as the Philippines’ Franchise Guru, a business mentor to numerous micro entrepreneurs who are now themselves big names in the industry. This article is reposted with the author’s permission and was previously published on The Business Mentor column posted by ABSCBN News. For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email:philfranchiseguru@gmail.com or on Twitter @philfranguru. His website is www.gmb.com.ph)

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