If you want your company to achieve the most success possible, expanding globally should be in your future. However, entering into international markets is a bit more complicated than simply expanding into a new region of the United States. There are a lot of pitfalls to avoid and challenges to overcome. Below are five things you need to know if your business is going international.
How High Will the Language Barrier Be?
One of the biggest considerations you should make when moving into a new market is the language barrier. In certain cases, the language barrier may be lower. Exporting your product from the United States to Australia or the United Kingdom will not require learning an entirely new language.
You may have to adjust the grammar and some terminology in your marketing copy, but it will be nothing too extreme. Exporting your products to South Korea, however, will be another story entirely. It will be even worse if the country you are exporting to does not have English as a second language. According to the numbers, the most spoken languages after English are Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish.
How High Will the Cultural Barriers Be?
Second, you have to think about the cultural barriers in addition to the language barrier. For one, just because you think your product will sell in a country does not mean it will. The tastes and preferences in another country can just differ too much. Entering that market may require adjusting your product so significantly that you will be launching a new product entirely.
Cultural issues will also weigh heavily on the success of your marketing. What may be okay for an ad in the United States may be scandalous or even illegal in another country. Overall, you need to be very cognizant of differences in social norms, moral attitudes, laws, religious beliefs, and more when marketing a product in a foreign country.
How Can You Protect Your Investments?
When your product leaves your country, the risk of something happening to it greatly increases. It could be stolen or simply not taken care of by locals working with your distribution partners. When that happens, the authorities may even look the other way and provide you with little recourse on how to recoup your investment.
However, one thing that can protect you in such a situation is having the right kind of insurance coverage. If you ship your products by boat, your business should adopt a commercial boat insurance policy. This kind of insurance can protect you if your products are damaged, stolen, or otherwise lost while in transit over the seas.
Such coverage can even protect your business from lawsuits. That can be very beneficial since navigating lawsuits involving international and maritime law can be very tricky indeed.
How Will the Local Government Be Involved?
While you may be used to the rather free and open marketplace of the United States, you will probably not find the same in many foreign countries. Other countries do not have the same concept of capitalism that the United States does and may fairly or unfairly add extra hurdles to imports and outsiders that wish to do business in their market.
Overall, you’re likely going to need to work with government officials at different levels to enter into certain foreign markets and have to deal with a lot of red tape and regulations. This may, for example, require taking on added costs you wouldn’t elsewhere such as needing to found a foreign headquarters in that country that is at least partially owned and run by locals or even the government itself.
Do You Have Locals on Your Team?
You shouldn’t expect to be able to enter a foreign market with your products with only complete outsiders from that country on your team and expect to succeed. Instead, you need to foster relationships with both locals and expats that can help ease the communication and cultural barriers that will exist.
Work on developing these relationships early enough. You shouldn’t expect everything to simply fall into place after you launch. Like any working relationship, it will take a while to work out the kinks with these new partners and employees.
Overall, you should expect a great challenge when it comes to expanding overseas. There could be language, culture, regulatory, and other significant barriers to entry that you will have to wrestle with and overcome to achieve success. Taking steps such as obtaining international insurance coverage and finding the right foreign talent to help you make the transition will be needed if you want to succeed. Try to cover as many bases as possible and examine the challenge from every angle you can think of.