10 Steps to Starting a Global Business

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The days when a startup had to be confined to a specific geographic market are long after. Thanks to online selling and other technology advantages, you can go global from the very beginning.

Of course, the process still requires a number of preparatory steps for success. You can’t just start a company hoping to attract a worldwide audience. To help you be successful from the beginning, here are 10 steps you can follow to launch your global business.

1) Determine Product Needs

First, in any type of business, it’s crucial to understand exactly what you need to do for your products to go global. Anything that requires electricity, for example, will need to be manufactured differently for countries that use different electrical currents and outlets.

Selling your product locally is relatively easy, because the environment is familiar. That’s not the case with global markets. If you’re looking to sell your goods in other countries, determining the technical changes your product needs to include is a crucial first step to success.

2) Focus on Congruent Markets

Going truly global is difficult and perhaps even impossible to accomplish. For easy transition, try to find foreign markets that are similar to your home area. The more similar the market you want to focus on, the easier the transition will be.

Over time, you can expand into markets that may yield higher long-term results. But at first, focusing tightly on specific markets that are similar to your native country can help get a jump start in the new market. The result will be less money spent, and a higher chance of short-term success.

2) Understand Your Audience

Next, be sure to understand exactly what types of people you are looking to reach. Within the markets you have established in the previous steps, perform a thorough audience analysis to gain a more thorough knowledge of your potential customers and clients.

Your audience analysis should focus, among other things, on the general market preferences and pain points for potential customers in your market entry points. In addition, try to identify common demographics, which can help you more narrowly focus your marketing and promotional efforts in the near future.

3) Focus on Advantages 

When starting a global business, it’s easy to get bogged down with the negatives. Sometimes, of course, a positive outlook is all you need to succeed in your endeavor.

Instead of focusing on the potential downfalls of going global, emphasize the advantages instead. Above all, you have a significantly larger selling opportunity simply because of larger audiences. A global reach also means increased brand perceptions, as even local audiences will appreciate the idea that the products they use are beneficial on a larger scale.

4) Understand Local Cultures

Perhaps the single most important truth about any type of international market entry is that entering the process with an ethnocentric approach is a sure way to fail. If you simply assume that the cultural environments of global markets are similar to your local area of influence, you risk not only missing out on opportunities, but never getting a foot on the ground to begin with.

Instead, try to understand the cultural contexts you’re about to enter. In your industry, is your product is considered a commodity or luxury item? How do your potential customers interact in potentially providing the valuable word-of-mouth needed to get your product off the ground? The better you understand both national and regional cultures, the more likely you’ll be to succeed in anything from product development to marketing.

5) Conduct Market Research

Similar to understanding your audience, it’s absolutely crucial to understand local environments before entering any type of global market. Most companies use the basic SWOT principle in order to examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a market before entry.

Within your market research, be sure to pay special attention to potential competitors. Especially local firms will not take kindly to a new, foreign market entry. Understanding their positioning allows you to build a strategy that doesn’t infringe on their current space, but occupies its own niche in the minds of your audience.

6) Focus on Online Capabilities

When going global, the internet is your best friend. Ideally, you should attempt to build your entire sales model on your online capabilities. In other words, begin by selling from your website (using international shipping, of course), and rely on a relatively local operation to make it happen.

Depending on your industry, of course, that can be difficult. But even if you need to take advantage of or even manufacture your product in foreign markets, you can use the internet to communicate constantly, and build your strategy remotely. That way, you can bridge otherwise difficult situations and provide instant communication capabilities.

7) Tap Financing Resources

Though taking your business global comes with a number of challenges, it also has undeniable advantages. Look for financing opportunities in the market(s) you’re about to enter that may become available to you simply by selling in that country.

For example, local governments may provide a stipend or sponsorship for not just selling, but manufacturing products in their region. In addition, a number of private banks and investors will be glad to work with you in order to ensure a steady financial flow. These possibilities do not always overlap with your local resources, so be sure to explore them to find hidden and advantageous opportunities.

8) Familiarize Yourself with Local Laws and Regulations

Of course, just as the financing might be different, so will the laws under which you operate. Especially American technology companies conducting business in Europe find that out on a regular basis, with the European Union regularly suing the likes of Google and Facebook for business practices that are perfectly acceptable in the United States.

That’s why it’s key to start any global endeavor with a self-education about the laws and regulations you will have to follow. Ideally, work with a law expert in your new market to discern details that are not always publicly available. The more thorough you are in this step, the less likely you’ll be to run into trouble.

9) Embrace Foreign Languages

72% of foreign consumers prefer to buy products that are written not in English, but in their native language. For you, that means not assuming that English product descriptions and marketing messages will work, but truly embracing the local nature of global markets.

That’s because, as mentioned in the beginning, there is no such thing as a global market. Instead, there are countless local markets, which together comprise the global market environment. You’re looking to get into a number of foreign local markets, and embracing their language is a first step to doing that.

10) Find Common Marketing Efforts

Finally, look to engage in promotions that are easily translatable. Especially if you promote your company using promotional products, you’ll want to choose products that translate easily into other countries, cultures, and languages rather than having to produce new ones for each market.

Marketing may be the most crucial part to successfully going global. You need an extensive effort in order to establish a foothold, and you need to make sure to get it right. All of the above tips and information should flow into a comprehensive marketing strategy that’s sure to reach your potential customers on a reliable, ongoing basis.

Are you looking to take your business and its product to the global market? Thanks to new technologies, it’s easier than ever. But you still have to keep in mind a number of variables, which the above tips can help you solve. Follow these steps, and before you know it, you’re a global company, successfully selling to customers all over the world.