Today, companies are much less reluctant to expand their business internationally. It is no longer something reserved for large groups. Thus, whatever their sectors of activity and size, more and more VSEs, and SMEs no longer hesitate about the idea of developing abroad. Going international allows you to conquer new markets and give your company much more visibility. It is a real lever for growth.
Nevertheless, to succeed in setting up abroad, you must have taken the time to prepare well. Internationalizing your business cannot be improvised. We, therefore, offer you five keys to successfully internationalizing your business.
1. Identify growth markets internationally
To expand your market internationally, you will need to analyze the different markets in which you can potentially establish yourself. Therefore, it would help if you relied on location criteria to define, according to you, the markets with the most value.
For example, you can choose geographic proximity as the location criterion. In particular, this allows you to manage your activity abroad more efficiently. Travel is also simplified, and you can visit your foreign teams more often. Moreover, geographical proximity is very often accompanied by cultural proximity. And cultural proximity makes a lot of things easier for you. It is easier for you, for example, to adapt your offer to your market.
You can, of course, choose other location criteria. Many companies select growth markets based on the business opportunities associated with them. You may then possibly find yourself settling in a country very far from your country of origin. In this type of case, you will have to consider how to adapt your offer to this new market. Because the culture is different, how you communicate will have to change completely.
2. Adapt your offer to the target market
When you are going to develop abroad, you must not opt for the easy solution, which is to offer the same product or service and to communicate on it in the same way as you do in your country. Copy-paste is very likely not to work.
You have to understand that your products or services can work very well in your country, but they will not necessarily have the same success in another country or another continent. And it also works for communication plans or advertising campaigns that you have developed. It may work very well with the audience, but there is no guarantee that it will reach your foreign market as effectively. You have to adapt and not the other way around. In itself, when you internationalize, the foreigner is you! You must pay attention to the local culture, mores, and consumer habits. It would be best if you took the time to know your market and then adapt your offer to your new consumers.
To help you in your readjustments, we advise you to ask yourself the following questions:
- What value do your product and service have in the eyes of the market?
- How does your offer stand out from the local competition?
- What are the expectations of your foreign customers? What are her purchasing behaviours, digital uses, and the sales channels she favours?
- What are the advantages and benefits of using your product and service for your market?
- What readjustments will you have to make to your product and service (colour, taste, packaging, price offer, etc.)?
- What marketing strategies will you develop (translated website, social networks, advertising campaign, etc.)?
Here, it is above all the market research that you will carry out which will help you modify specific parameters of your offer according to the needs of your international target.
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3. Prepare for cultural differences
You will understand what we have already said: preparing for cultural differences is an essential step in the successful internationalization of your business. You must remember that we are talking about the humans you will address by market or target. These humans will have a language and a culture different from yours. And very often, the lack of knowledge or disregard for the local culture causes your internationalization projects to fall through.
For example, a particular colour or symbol in a country may be highly frowned upon. Imagine that your logo has this colour or logo. You will never succeed in conquering this market! We can also take the example where your business name means something else after translation, which has a negative connotation in the country in question. You must therefore rework your logo and your name if necessary, without forgetting your website, which must be correctly translated and present a design specific to a country or culture.
In short, you will have understood that it is up to you to adapt and not the other way around. But knowledge of codes, customs, traditions, and behaviours cannot be learned in a snap. We, therefore, advise you:
- To employ local people who necessarily know the codes of the country.
- To go there or to send one of your collaborators to know the country better, soak up the culture and understand the needs and expectations of consumers.
- Have in your company a person who already knows the culture of the country in question and the local market. If this person is familiar with your company, its values , and the products/services offered, they could help you establish yourself in the market.
4. Choose your staff and train them
Among your current staff, try to identify those motivated to work abroad. Some of your employees or collaborators may have an international sensitivity. They could thus constitute suitable relays within the framework of the internationalization of your business. You can also take stock of the languages spoken in the company. But depending on the country or countries you plan to internationalize, you will most likely need to train your employees in foreign languages.
Whatever country you decide to settle in, you will always benefit from studying languages such as English or Spanish. These are widely spoken languages in the world. And if you master them, you will always be able to communicate with your interlocutors, regardless of the country where you are. The mastery of the language will facilitate administrative exchanges but also commercial exchanges. Indeed, you will be able to conduct successful negotiations, convince your investors, communicate effectively with your employees, or even establish partnership relations. Therefore, you must have good oral fluency and a perfect understanding of the language. The mastery of writing is also essential for sending mail or e-mails in particular.
But such a mastery of foreign languages is not innate, as much for you as for your collaborators. You will most likely need to go through further language learning. We advise you here to train yourself and your employees via online course platforms. For example, suppose you plan to set up in several South American countries. In that case, you can offer your employees to learn the Spanish language through a platform that offers online Spanish lessons. Employees can choose their coach and then benefit from personalized support. This kind, of course, is the best to progress quickly and quickly learn to speak the language fluently.
5. Develop new relationships
Remember to look in your network if you have contacts who could help you in your internationalization project. If so, try to see with these people if they could recommend you to interesting foreign interlocutors.
Once established in the country, you can also join clubs or groups of professionals to meet new people and build a network of international partners who can recommend you.
The goal is that you manage to establish good relations with foreign companies, regardless of whether they are your competitors or not.
You can initially rely on your new contacts so that they can advise you on legal, fiscal, or administrative constraints.
Internationalizing your business can be a powerful lever for growth. Regardless of the size of your business, you can decide to export abroad at any time. But developing internationally requires that you follow a rigorous approach. You must first clearly define the foreign market in which you will establish yourself. It would help to analyze the country’s culture to adapt your offer to the market. Preparing for cultural differences is a crucial step. Your internationalization will have a good chance of going well if it is well done. Finally, don’t forget to prepare for the language barrier and take language lessons if necessary. On-site, build a network that can recommend you.
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