Are you ready to reach new markets? Whether you’ve reached the saturation point in your local market, or boast a product or service that simply appeals to foreign customers, it’s never been easier to grow your business internationally. Here’s how to get started.

Pick a target

It’s important to know your audience. You need a specific customer profile, and in the case of international sales, that customer profile is going to be specific to each location that you serve. As a start-up, your target isn’t everyone in the world, or even everyone in a particular country, or city, but a specific type of person. Identify what type of customer your product or service meets the needs of, and market to them.

This can be a challenge in markets with which you don’t have personal familiarity. Consider a hire, partner or agency that can be your subject matter expert on that location and help you customize your marketing and communications. Localization translations may also be necessary.

Be cautious about making assumptions – US companies selling to the UK may rely on dated and exaggerated stereotypes about the typical tea-drinking Brit in their marketing, while British companies are often guilty of overemphasizing one-size-fits-all cowboy stereotypes.

Do the paperwork

You don’t want to get ahead of yourself. If you’re thinking about launching or expanding into foreign markets, do your research and make sure that you’ve met all the legal requirements before you start selling across borders. While you’re doing the research, consider spending some time on networking and reaching out to industry and government organizations for help. Many regional and municipal trade organizations exist and offer aid and resources to start-ups and established businesses looking to expand and sell overseas.

Hire an expert

International trade involves greater complexity than domestic business. You can spend time researching and trying to learn everything that you need to know, but a faster and more reliable path to success is simply involving the right experts at the right stages. Marketing, communications and localization experts can help you to target your products and services successfully.

International law and finances is an area where specialist support is beneficial. Trade agreements, taxes, duty, and exchange are just the tip of the iceberg, and mistakes can be expensive.

Get the best deal

International exchange rates can work in your favor, but exchange fees and rates can quickly eat up your margins. Shop around for the best service fees – most favorable exchange rates can save you significant sums, particularly when transferring larger sums in a real estate transaction, supply purchase or wholesale transaction. Do your research ahead of time to get the best rates on international money transfer from London, or New York, or any number of commercial centers.

Your start-up could gain access to near-unlimited potential markets by selling internationally. Plan ahead by identifying the customers who need your products; prepare for success with careful research and legal applications, insurance and records; and bring in expert specialists as necessary to achieve that success more quickly and with less risk. Don’t forget to shop around and save on money transfer when it comes time to make those large start-up transactions.

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