Developing your business internationally is a long-term project that must be carried out with accuracy and care. Do you want to expand your business into foreign markets? Discover the 8 steps that are essential to the success of your international development strategy.
Step 1 – Assess the viability of the project
The first step in expanding your business abroad is to assess the viability of your project. Indeed, international expansion can be risky if the feasibility of the project is not properly assessed.
You should therefore take the time to take stock of the financial, human, and logistical resources available, and to ask yourself certain questions beforehand. For example, is the company economically stable enough to consider expanding internationally? Does it have sufficient human resources and the necessary skills to ensure the development of the business and to manage the administrative and legal constraints? Will it be able to increase the volume of production? Will it be able to differentiate itself from the local competition? What are the strategic issues related to this development?
Step 2 – Choose the country and analyse the local market
If the project proves to be viable and relevant, the next step is to carefully choose the best country for your company to expand into. Choose the destinations that are most relevant to your project, to the evolution of the market and to your growth prospects.
Depending on the business and financial situation of the company, it may be less risky to choose a neighbouring country. Alternatively, you may wish to consider multi-domestic development, in several foreign countries.
In addition to the choice of country, think about the geographical area concerned (a specific region, several cities, a capital city, etc.). This will be even more important if the target country is very large. In the United States, for example, cultural habits and consumer needs may vary greatly from one state to another.
Then carry out a comprehensive market study of the country or countries you are considering.
Here are the main points you should carefully consider in your international development strategy:
- What is the growth potential in the target country?
- How big is the market?
- How is the relevant industry doing locally?
- What are consumers' expectations?
- What is already on offer? Is the competition significant?
- What is the local culture?
- What resources are available locally?
- What are the good practices of local businesses?
- What is the consumer typology?
- What needs will you address?
- What are the notable consumption patterns in the country?
- What are the main distribution channels?
You will also need to find out about the legal, administrative, and logistical procedures involved in your development project. What are the regulations in force in the country you are considering expanding into? What are the logistical standards for transporting and exporting products? What are the customs constraints?
This analysis will enable you to familiarise yourself with the local market, define the success factors, identify the main competitors and the opportunities for your future international development.
Step 3 – Choosing how to set up internationally
Once the market has been targeted, you then need to choose carefully how to set up in the country.
Indeed, there are several options available such as indirect export (via an export company), or direct export; licences and franchises; the creation of a joint venture with a local partner, or the opening of branches, subsidiaries, production sites abroad, and representative offices, etc.
How you choose to enter the market will depend, among other things, on the financial resources available to the company, the prospects for development, but also the regulatory constraints in the country concerned. For example, in some countries it is mandatory to enter into a partnership with a local partner to set up as a foreign company.
Step 4 – Make an action plan
You can then start to develop your international development strategy. To do this, draw up a detailed action plan, including:
- the objectives you want to achieve
- the key performance indicators (KPIs)
- the physical and financial means and resources you need to deploy
- the actions you need to take to achieve the objectives
- your deadlines.
You will also need to appoint employees who will play a central role in the international development. The project may also involve developing the skills of your teams, and working with a number of different partners, subcontractors, investors, suppliers, and multicultural teams.
Step 5 – Tailor the offer to your target market
Another fundamental step is to adapt your commercial offer to the new target.
Indeed, from one country to another, and even from one region to another, cultural differences, consumer habits, needs, and the offer proposed can be radically different.
You will need to develop a solid knowledge of the country and get to know your international audience better. You can do this, for example, by carrying out surveys and questionnaires to identify the expectations, tastes, and habits of your customers. Also consider creating personas, typical profiles that represent the target audience (personal and professional situation, environment, culture, interests, mother tongue, means of communication, buying habits, etc.).
Step 6 – Adapting your communication strategy
Thanks to this in-depth analysis, you will then be able to define a global marketing strategy, adapted to consumer habits, and circulated on the most relevant communication channels (social networks, website, press, etc.).
A communication strategy for international development must consider the various idiosyncrasies and you will need to adapt your marketing content to the cultural standards in force in the country.
Step 7 – Create quality multilingual content
To communicate effectively with your international prospects and customers, you will also need to translate your content into the language of the country concerned.
The translation must obviously be of high quality and carried out by a translator specialising in the relevant sector (finance, retail, banking and insurance, industry, luxury goods, food, etc.).
You will have to adapt elements such as your website, product sheets, communication on social networks, blog articles, product packaging, promotional videos, etc.
In addition, don't forget to translate your legal and commercial documents (general terms and conditions of sale, legal notices, subcontracting agreements, notarial deeds, commercial contracts, business plans, financial and accounting documents, etc.). In some cases, you will have to use a sworn (certified) translator to certify the legal value of a translation to a foreign authority.
In addition, make sure you choose a professional who translates exclusively into their mother tongue and who is ideally based in the country where the language is used.
Are you looking for experienced professional translators? Discover the services of our translation agency Alphatrad.
Step 8 – Get professional support
Developing a business internationally is a complex and time-consuming project, especially if you are not familiar with the country you are targeting. There are certain organisations that can help you in your project. The Chambers of Commerce, for example, offer dedicated support to companies to facilitate the setting up of a project abroad.
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FAQ on international development strategy
Developing your business internationally is a powerful growth lever, giving you access to new customers and a significant competitive advantage. In the long run, this can boost the company's commercial performance, increase turnover, and lead to considerable savings.
International development also has limitations. Language barriers and cultural differences, for example, can make it difficult to implement. This is also the case for the logistical constraints and administrative requirements linked to an export project. It is therefore important to be well informed about the market and use the services of professionals who are native to the country.
There is no real magic formula for a successful export project. However, it is important to remember not to rush this step, and to wait until the business is fairly established and developed in the country of origin. Also remember to take the time to find out about the country and all the particularities of your sector of activity on the foreign market.
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