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How to expand your business abroad

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When it comes to growing your business – and your profits – sometimes the best approach is to think big.

It doesn’t get much bigger than expanding your operations into a foreign market. While many may be put off from the risk of taking steps into an unfamiliar territory, there are plenty of rewards available to those who plan it right and persevere.

According to research conducted by Barclays, exporting can play a huge part in the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – however, over half of all firms decide against making the move because of a “psychological barrier”.

Despite this, 86 per cent of those who have gone on to export their wares said that they found it either easier than they had anticipated, or at least as they expected, when they finally took the plunge.

So if you haven’t yet made the leap, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about it – and because you don’t want to go in blind, here are a few pointers to get you started.

Do your research

Firstly, don’t assume that just because your product or service is in demand in this country, consumers in foreign markets will have the same response.

Different cultures can often view a product in a variety of ways and what may be considered to be fresh and exciting in Sweden may not necessarily be held in the same view in Spain.

Market research is always a must before embarking on overseas ventures, not only to determine whether or not there is a need for what you are about to offer, but also to weigh up your competition and how they are already going about their business.

Invest in local managers

When you do decide to move into a new region, you’ll likely need all the friends you can get. Therefore, it is important to invest time and money in people who know the area and can advise you on your strategies.

As well as unlocking valuable insider knowledge, another advantage of having a local manager on your side is gaining access to their contacts. This could certainly speed up the process of finding your feet if a relationship has already been established with suppliers and potential clients.

Keep in touch

Don’t expect that once you’ve set things up you can leave the new international arm of your business to tick over and grow on its own. Especially in the early days, regular communication with your team is key to ensuring that this part of your company is progressing in the manner that you want it to.

While it may be expensive and time-consuming to fly in and out of the country every couple of days, modern technology can certainly help relieve the burden somewhat. Why not host regular meetings via video conferencing facilities to keep yourself up to date with how things are going?

Launching a business in an unfamiliar market may be daunting at first, however, if you go into it with the right attitude and with your eyes wide open, there is no reason why you can’t watch your business benefit as a result.