Is your small business going global? Remember about these three steps.
International expansion isn’t only for large or middle-sized businesses. Small businesses can also benefit from taking their activity to the global level.
Whether you run an online store, sell products or offer services, you can easily reach your potential customers abroad if you remember about these three important steps.
1. Start close to your home
Usually, the safest place to start are the neighbouring countries or regions with a similar culture or business etiquette. It might be much easier to ship your products to the nearest country rather than to other continents. Plus, you probably already know your neighbouring markets quite well or share some common behaviours or traditions. This will make your move to the new country smoother, especially if you’re planning to open a local office.
In any case, before you take your business global, you’ll need to do a market research to make sure there’s demand for your products or services. Without this process moving to the new region might end up to be a waste of time and money.
2. Bear the cultural differences in mind
No matter how far your international customers are, one thing is sure: there will always be some differences between your home and target country. From cultural differences, through the way people navigate websites or take purchase decisions, to legal issues, currencies and payment methods – you have to know your target market very well to run your business effectively.
The key to success is to show you understand your customers and are aware of the peculiarities of the local market. For this reason, remember to adapt your website to your consumers by including local payment methods and local currency, publishing relevant content and adapting the layout or navigation patterns to the needs of your target customers.
This is especially important for small businesses that give up the idea of opening a branch or office abroad and focus on online activity only. If you plan to attract new customers to your website and encourage them to order your products, make sure your content and customer support is available in their language and include local payment methods. That’s the least you can do to prove your local presence, even if you haven’t opened a physical branch in the new market.
3. Use the power of social media
Small businesses often have limited funds to enter a global market. Luckily, you don’t have to run expensive road shows, billboard campaigns or TV commercials to mark your presence in the new region.
Once your website is ready for the international visitors, add social media to your marketing strategy. This will help you reach out to the potential customers in the new market and encourage them to buy your products and services.
First you’ll need to define where your target users hang out and choose the right social media channels. What works well on your home market might not be equally efficient abroad.
Make sure your posts and updates are in the language of your target customers and publish content which is relevant to them. That’s where the knowledge of the local culture and market comes in. So, before you start interacting with your users via Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube, carry out a thorough market research and crate your customer persona.
Only then your small business will be ready to use the power of social media to expand to the new regions.
Going global might be both a challenging and rewarding adventure. It all depends on how you prepare to this process and how well you know your target market. Whatever strategy you choose, you won’t be able to succeed without communicating in the local language and without understanding the culture and behaviour of your international customers.
About the author: Dorota Pawlak
Dorota helps businesses, organisations and individuals to communicate successfully across cultures in the online and offline world. She is an entrepreneur and a qualified translator specialising in IT and localisation of websites, games and software.