Guide to Doing Business Internationally

If you have experienced business success in your home country, if you’ve conquered the market, nailed your conversion funnels, and got a healthy batch of repeated customers, you might ask yourself: what next?

The answer for many business people worldwide that feel like they have exhausted their domestic market potential is to look elsewhere and take their operations overseas. They are lucky to be living in the modern-day when technology makes it easier than ever before to do business on a worldwide scale. The flourishing of e-commerce means that you don’t even need to have a physical storefront to open up a shop in another land. That being said, there is still much more to take your business international than simply accommodating foreign traffic on an online store. You may need to revamp your business model completely; you might need a tinker here and there. However, you need to amend your business, it should be done after completing the following steps. 

Market Research 

The success of an international or multi-national business depends on having customers in a different nation. It sounds simple, right? Well, if you did your market research properly in your domestic market, you are likely groaning at the likelihood of doing it all again. Sadly, that is what has to be done. Market research is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success in any new or existing market. It is the key to giving you the information on consumers and competitors that you need to take a new market by storm. You will depend on market research, referring to it in one way or another in almost every decision that you make. 

As a result, if you are contemplating expanding abroad, international market research is vital. You are entering an unknown land, so you will need to formulate completely new marketing and promotion strategies, as you will have different individual consumers to target. You need to be thorough, ask yourself what you want to accomplish, and focus especially hard on how you need to portray yourself and your company to ease into the new culture. A cultural mistake is one that will alienate many potential customers. 

Brand Preparations

One of the laws of branding is to be as consistent as possible, but when you’re entering a new market, it can be difficult in some situations to not give your brand a little update. You need to translate your brand values and then communicate them to make your story compelling to your customers’ new nationalities. You might find it a puzzle to maintain your brand’s integrity while adapting to fit in with the locals, but many companies do it. 

McDonald’s and Starbucks offer different menus, exclusive to different countries, that enhance their brand awareness worldwide – many tourists are eager to try their favorite brand with a cultural twist. Everything should be localized as much as possible, from slang to ingredients (which will likely save you money in the process). You will need to refer to your market research every step of the way as you transform your brand for this new market. 

Prepare for The Language Barrier 

One of the hardest things about doing business overseas is the language barrier. Google translate has come a long way, but it still doesn’t capture the idiomatic eccentricities of colloquial language in a different country. Even in English, some idioms simply don’t translate. Before you expand your business into the international market, you must prepare for the language barrier. You will be tempted to make sure that your words translate directly, but this is a mistake – translating a brand to another culture relies not just on similar sentence meanings but similar contexts. Contexts that you understand immediately as a native speaker of your language will influence every word you utter. As a result, you need to maintain language and the context of that language.

The best way of doing this is by using a translation management system. A Smartling translation management system is perfect for managing translated assets at scale. This software can help businesses to manage their translated lingual assets and allows all parties to work collaboratively. It does more than simply translating texts; it enables you to maintain your brand identity across translated contexts appropriately. With an effective translation management system, you can be assured that all of your translated content will accurately show your true brand identity and fulfill your marketing strategy to its fullest. 

Learn the Local Business Principles

Managing a business in a different country will be different. You will be up against language barriers and legal and cultural differences and expectations that can all accumulate and feel a little overwhelming. You will find it far easier to make that faux pas that can significantly affect your business. Every country has different behaviors, so it might be handy to get a bit of outside help. Consulting firms will offer to get you acquainted with the local laws, regulations, and governance, but you should also consider hiring a native as a second-in-command, as this will help to make sure that you don’t slip up in your day-to-day dealings. In many countries, you may be asked to make bribery payments or cross paths with organized crime and corruption. Keep in mind that engaging in these underhand norms can lead to serious legal and reputational repercussions in your home country.