Because technology and resources are making the globe smaller and smaller, small businesses need to consider options of expanding their operations internationally. As with any new market, though, expanding internationally has its potential problems as well. Here are 5 ways to research a new international market for your small business:
Follow the News-
You would be surprise to know how much you can learn about potential markets when you watch the news. What countries are discussed and why? Which countries are going through political changes or opening their doors? Which businesses are moving into new regions and why? To be successful in any market, it is critical to have as much information as possible. As you follow the news, you can identify areas of interest and that will lead you to other areas of research.
Investigate Potential Local Competitors-
Once you hone in on a specific country or region that you think would be a future launch point, it is next important to research any potential competitors in that region. Focus in on the local competitors. What is their market share? What are their relationships with government entities? Do they maintain any cultural identifications with their local communities? It is critical to learn what type of “home court advantage” businesses are given to know how best to compete in that market.
Seek Out Possible Partnering Opportunities-
Sometimes, operating internationally is much easier when you can find a local company to partner with. Someone who knows the lay of the land and how to get access. Also someone that may be more familiar to your clients/customers. It is critical to research who you could work with when seeking to break in to a new market. Pay attention to what their strengths and weaknesses are. How can they assist your business? Do the have the capacity to do what you need them to do? Is there a good “personality fit”? Are they willing to take direction and protect interests?
Determine if Your Product/Services is Ready for That Market-
Just because something works where you are does not mean that that product will easily translate into a marketable item in a new country. Research how interested those future customers/clients are in your type of good or service. What type of client education is going to be necessary in order to alert them to the benefit of you product? What potential culture pitfall might you run in to because of branding/product naming that should be prevented by adjustments. May international companies run in to marketing issues because they don’t pay attention to meanings of translations and market needs in a new country.
Review Potential Government Compliance Issues-
Most importantly, you need to evaluate how you can legally do business in that respective country. What is the filing requirement for an international company? What restrictions do they have on foreign investment? What potential real estate ownership issues might impact you? How can you protect or license any intellectual property that may be important in that new venture? What do you need to do in order to enforce contracts or protect your interests? Which entities do you need to register with in order to do whatever you are planning on doing? International regulatory concerns can be very problematic for a business owner and should be carefully evaluated and consulted in order to manage interests and expectations in the new market country.