Expanding your business to other countries can help it grow because most of the world’s customers are not in the United States. When a company goes into a new country for the first time, there are chances to do well and challenges to overcome. Often, failure happens when a company doesn’t have enough information, doesn’t know enough, or doesn’t have experience in the new market.
Here are some tips and good ways we’ve learned from working with many companies that want to start in new markets.
AmCham: A Great First Point of Contact
To increase your chances of success, it’s really important to find the right people and resources when you’re starting a company in a new country. Your new team members should come from that place and have the freedom to make decisions, access to money and the power to manage the budget.
In the beginning, when you’re expanding overseas, it’s more about “who” you bring on board than “how” you do things, as suggested by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy’s popular book.
If you’re the founder or CEO of the company, your main focus should be on finding the best people to help your business succeed in a new country, rather than getting lost in all the small details, operations, and following all the rules that come with entering a new market.
This often means talking to other business owners, seeking advice from local experts, and connecting with people who have experience in that country. It might also involve working with a global PEO, like my company, INS Global, to simplify some of the initial steps in entering a new market (I’ll explain more about that later).
For American companies thinking about expanding abroad, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a valuable network of affiliates around the world. These are organizations like AmCham that are based in foreign countries and are managed locally. They are a good starting point for getting resources, information, and access to events in other countries. They can also help you find potential partners if your company is looking to expand overseas and invest in foreign markets.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a public directory with information about 130 AmCham chambers and business councils in over 100 countries worldwide. This is a great place to start when you’re trying to find the right people, partners, and programs to connect with in other countries.
AmCham has a presence in nearly every country around the world, so they can offer guidance no matter where you’re interested in expanding. Some of the things they can help with include:
- Connecting you with other businesses and potential partners.
- Organizing trade missions.
- Assisting with government relations.
- Providing research on markets and economics.
- Offering support for arbitration and legal advice.
- Helping with direct marketing and promoting exports.
- Assisting with U.S. Visa processes.
- Providing job listings.
It’s important to note that AmCham’s main focus is on supporting American companies as they start and succeed in foreign countries. If your company is not based in the U.S Many other countries have similar networks that can help with entering new markets, like the British Chamber of Commerce.
Network and Engage
Meeting people who have experience in international business can be really helpful. They can teach you about the process and give you realistic expectations, which is something you can’t always get just from reading.
You can connect with these experienced individuals through seminars, workshops, and business groups like the European American Chamber of Commerce. These platforms are not only for connecting but also for sharing and learning from others’ experiences.
To find these experienced folks, you can check with national Chambers of Commerce, local universities, or online business networks that focus on the specific industry in the market you want to enter.
Besides networking, having a mentor can also be very beneficial. If you can find someone who has firsthand experience with the challenges of growing a business in the new market you’re targeting, their advice will be more practical and valuable than what you can find online. They might even be able to introduce you to helpful contacts.
Depending on the place you’re targeting, the embassy or consulate of your country in that location might have helpful resources to aid you in understanding the local market, cultural differences, and what customers prefer. They can often give you an overview of production costs, programs that involve both the government and private sector, the rules you need to follow, and stories of success from other foreign businesses that did well in that country.
When you get in touch with your embassy or consulate, the person you’ll likely talk to is the commercial attache or consular advisory officer. They specialize in helping companies like yours who are exploring foreign investments. Sometimes, these folks can provide you with lists of other companies from your home country that successfully entered the market there, as well as information about networking events and initial introductions.
For instance, the British Department of Business and Trade offers various services to companies wanting to invest or start a business, in the UK. They cover things like learning about the industry, help with managing money, and solving problems related to the business environment, among other things.
Partner With a PEO
When you’re thinking about expanding abroad, it’s a good idea to find ways to make the process smoother. One way to do that is by teaming up with experts in areas where you might not have much knowledge in the new country.
For instance, if you work with a global PEO, you can legally hire employees in the new market without having to create your own legal entity. This makes it possible for companies to establish a presence in a new country and build a team in a matter of weeks, rather than months.
Succeeding in entering a new market depends on giving yourself enough time to thoroughly understand the market and being open to constantly learning. At the same time, having partners to support you and giving importance to a local team with experience can give you an advantage.
Expanding your business to international markets offers growth potential. Success demands thorough research and a learning mindset. Engaging with experienced professionals, using resources like AmCham, and embassy support are valuable. Partnering with experts can streamline market entry. Prioritizing local insight and continuous learning is key to international business success.