14. How to prepare for going international with your business

The most important thing to do before entering new markets is conduct solid research. Even though your product / service might be very popular in our country, it might not have the same popularity in another country. In the article below, we pointed out what are those aspects you should consider before planning.

When entering a new market, it’s crucial to get to know the local specificities as well as the economic aspects. Here are some things to consider:  

1. First thing to know is that you need to buy before you sell something. Meaning, you need to be a client before selling your products or services, which will teach you a lot about the business culture. When you want to enter another market, the best approach is to discover what the local culture looks like in terms of customer service:  

How do the companies treat you before and after a purchase?  

  • Can you provide a better service?  
  • Do they offer quality products/services?  
  • Do they have a better offer?  
  • Can you collaborate with them? 

2. The second thing is your business etiquette, which is another very important thing to consider. This is even more important than what and how you sell. In some countries, the street culture is not like the business culture, as in business, there is a visible European or American influence. Maybe the offices are familiar to an American or European, but the people working there are acting completely different. So, if you want to get closer to closing a deal or getting close to a client, you need to have a better understanding of what are those people working on in that office and what’s the business culture they cultivate.  

There are many things to include here, but here we summarize a few: 

  • The way you talk, and your body language are very important.  
  • Then, the way you dress: some people believe that wearing a suit & tie is enough, but there are way too many factors to take into consideration. When you wear a tie, do you notice how many other people are also wearing a tie? Who are you talking to when you’re wearing that tie? Some of these small insights might not be visible but are crucial to your business’ success.  
  •  Handshakes. In many cultures around the world, having a firm handshake means you are trustworthy and confident, but this doesn’t apply everywhere. In the Middle East, for example, having a firm handshake is considered childish, and people only shake hands delicately (sometimes just by touching your fingers), while in Japan, they don’t do handshakes, they just bow to each other.  

3. Remember that you must be physically present there. Because you plan to enter another country, it's rather necessary to go there, as what you find on the internet might not be aligned with the reality. So go there, walk the streets, talk to the locals, see who and what buys – basically, check how people are acting offline (as not every shopping behavior we see online is true). Then your vision will be clearer.  

4. Next step is to educate, be present in the local market and establish a benchmark. Educating is not always just self-promotion, it’s also about testing your audience. That’s how you see whether you’re too behind of what they’re used to, or maybe too ahead of what they know, maybe they won’t appreciate your business or maybe it’s just either too early to let them know about your service or they are too advanced for it.  

This whole process will give you the results that you need only if you communicate with your local community through educational courses, meetups or events. This time though, you need to be the speaker, not just for the networking, you will need that audience. The audience might give you a larger perspective of the existent community, thanks to the reaction you’ll be receiving, which will get you strong insights of whether they are ready to see your product or are too advanced for it already. The latter might push you to get acces to a even larger community, not based just on 1:1 conversations.  

5. When entering an international market, you don’t have to get to compete with the others. Instead, collaborate with them. If for example, you want to enter the markets from Germany or Egypt, you’ll surely need a month or two of research to see who’s leading the market you’re targeting. You’ll be surprised to see that if you reach out to the greatest names on the market, they will be more than opened to say: “We were thinking to externalize some of our services and you might be just the right partner for that.”  

6. Bet on the no. 2s in the market. The market-leading business will always be too great or too comfortable to care about the competition. But the ones in the second position, will always strive to become number one. So that’s why the number 2s will listen to you and might see you as a potential collaborator from another country, will always believe there is a need for improvement, as the benchmark (the number one) is the destination they are heading towards.  

7. As I always say, feedback is pure gold – as not all payments are made with money. Feedback helps you build a better product, mostly in a new market. Go there, talk to the locals and understand why they might want to buy your product and not the one from the market-leading business. 

8. Hire a “glocal” - a local with a global mindset. The role of this person is to create that bridge between you, as a foreigner in that country and the local community. This glocal person will “translate” the feedback for you, so that you can understand it.  

9. Last thing to consider is to go somewhere where people welcome you, don’t go somewhere where you are tolerated. Meaning that the country you choose should let you be innovative and where things go by the Blue Ocean Strategy, and not by the Red Ocean type one.    

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