You’ve learned about what are the steps, opportunities and things you need to check before you expand to other countries. But what other options do you have or you should consider in this process?
Here are some few examples. They are not necessarily enough for actually being able to say you’ve fully expanded your business overseas, but they are very good starting points and they support your efforts of being more sustainable and experimenting with new business models.
They can also be good testing grounds to see whether your creations / input are popular in a specific country or region before investing a lot in expanding to a new country.
Using international marketplace-type platforms
For some types of creative entrepreneurs, platforms like Etsy can prove to be of great value. They already have a solid base of customers who know that Etsy is the place where they can find products that are created by small businesses and that have a specific design, quality and look and feel. The range of products found on the platform varies from clothes to decorations, bags or furniture.
Etsy is an international platform, meaning that creators from different parts of the world can create their own profiles and reach customers from other countries.
RedBubble is another example of such a platform – it targets independent visual artists who sell their designs to be used in different ways (from art prints, to clothes of other accessories). The platform produces the actual merchandise and handles deliveries and customer issues.
So what these platforms have in common is that they connect artists to a larger, international audience (that they don’t necessarily have to build themselves), while bypassing some (but not all) aspects that can make reaching new markets more difficult. Obviously, there are costs in using such platforms – some of them require a membership, others may ask for a sales commission, others may have additional features that rank you higher in searches or that promote your works.
The first thing you need to do is see what are the platforms that best suit your needs and profile, and then study their costs and, most importantly, terms and conditions.
Using stock platforms
If you are a musician, a video maker or photographer, stock platforms can be a source of income and reaching new types of clients. They can also be of help in creating business relations for other businesses that could be scouting new suppliers in these areas.
Shutterstock, Premiumbeat, Getty and iStock, Vimeo, VideoHive and Pond5 are probably the most well-known and accessed.
Obviously, don’t forget to first check their terms and conditions and see which best match your desires.
Networks & associations
If you are active in the organisations that are active in your field – like unions, associations or councils – you should know that some of them usually are connected to other such initiatives in other countries or to international networks that serve creatives’ interest and practice regulations. Others may be part of public institutions – like ministries and cabinets for culture and arts.
Such organisations are also useful in finding new opportunities, as most of them have the objectives of developing your field, and they can be good connections to have for projects and partnerships.
For consultants or content creators, for example, personal branding is essential in reaching new markets. You should know however that personal branding goes well beyond your LinkedIn profile.
Having an updated LinkedIn profile, where you also post relevant content, connect and interact with other professionals, and get recommendations really is important. But your efforts shouldn’t only be directed towards that.
There are multiple ways to build a network and recognition in another country. One of them is the research of organisations that match your interests and who act as opinion formers or enablers of the local ecosystem. Getting in touch with them, offering to become a resource for their events, programs or workshops could be an advantage. Another may be producing content for niche publications or media outlets that are relevant in their national ecosystem.
International programs for creatives and entrepreneurs in your field
Being informed of the initiatives that target creatives in your specific vertical is very important – they can be a great way to interact with other creatives such as yourself from other countries, to learn and discover new opportunities.
They are also a good context to learn about your industry in other countries and observe differences (compared to your country), test ideas and understand more deeply what it takes for your idea to succeed in another geography.
In the European Union there are more and more such events and programs for international collaboration that are of great value for creatives wanting to expand their business abroad. One of the newest initiatives that could help you is The New European Bauhaus, a creative and interdisciplinary initiative that connects the European Green Deal to our living spaces and experiences.