Expanding the reach of your business into new international territories is a sign that your offering is robust enough to appeal in different cultures. But even the biggest businesses can make mistakes if they try to copy and paste their domestic operations when undertaking expansion. With that in mind, BizVibe listed these five biggest challenges you are likely to face when expanding business internationally.
Whether you proactively embedded company culture at HQ from the early days, or it developed more organically, it’s central to your firm’s success. Culture influences the way you do things and how internal and external customers feel — when operating in a competitive market, this differentiates you from rivals.
But there might be subtle or severe misalignments between your established culture and the new nations you’re moving into. So investing in culture translation is a must — organizational behavior expert Erin Meyers recommends simple adjustments like toning down performance feedback in more indirect cultures to contribute to sustained success.
While you won’t be spending all of your time in your new territory, you need to make a good first impression with local staff, customers, and officials.
But customs that serve you well at home like shaking hands firmly and communicating assertively might cause offense elsewhere — studying business etiquette before an important meeting or meal can save you committing a social faux pas.
For example, smiling is a sign of insincerity in Russia and the usual Israeli work week runs from Sunday to Thursday — doing your homework means your company is more likely to slot in smoothly in any location.
If you’re paying staff in several tax regimes, you’ll need to be extremely careful that you’re meeting the appropriate compliance requirements and payments are provided accurately and on time.
Failure to pay the appropriate tax could result in a hefty fine from authorities and the suspension of any specialist licenses that allow you to operate.
But outsourcing to global payroll solutions providers automates compliance in several territories simultaneously and ensures that new staff remains satisfied when their salaries are paid promptly.
Establishing a respectful relationship with tax bodies in a new territory is one of the foundations of long-term success.
Naturally, you’ll have to communicate with new customers in their own language but hire native speakers to translate or generate content — they’ll understand cultural and linguistic nuances that fluent speakers might miss.
And remember that although some social media platforms have penetrated practically every market, there are exceptions.
In China for instance, WeChat replaces WhatsApp, Weibo serves the same function as Twitter (which is banned) and Baidu provides many of the same services as Google. But every social media platform is heavily monitored and censored — so you’ll have to adapt your messaging accordingly.
Before diving in at the deep end while expanding business internationally, you’ll have spent time reassuring yourself and any shareholders that there’s a genuine market demand for your products and services.
But although the basics of your brand bestsellers might remain the same, you might have to tweak some details tooptimizee them for different markets.
So considering glocalization adaptations might entail a fast food company adding local herbs and spices to its flagship burger — or developing entirely new products that complement their core offering but appeal specifically to fans of authentic local cuisine.
Failing to adapt might mean that the products that sell like hotcakes at home sink like lead balloons abroad.
Meet these five challenges and your neighborhood business might become a local favourite in several different cultures.
How did your firm go global? Share your advice about expanding business internationally in the comments section.