If you are looking for ways to increase profits and expand your business you should consider possible international business opportunities. Rather than cutting costs to the bone and going to local networking meetings around the clock, look to markets across the World to increase your sales and provide more efficient ways of doing business.
Why You Need to Go Global
Rise Above Local Competition: When we started O'Mahony Donnelly in 2000, just a couple of years after moving to Ireland, we realised that it would be a big challenge to compete with local accountancy firms, with partners and staff who went to school with or were related to most of the people in the area. We still had clients in the UK and expertise in UK and Irish tax so this was a niche that was ideal for us. We had an in-house web developer so it was easy enough to go online and market our services across the World, capitalising on Ireland's favourable corporate environment. This is also the case for many of our clients that have chosen to expand internationally: software developers, personal product manufacturers, retail operators, and many different types of businesses from most of the countries of the World.
Diversity in Customers is Healthy for Business: Again using ourselves as an example, in over a decade of business the firm has gone from strength to strength and has had very little fall out from the recession because our clients are from a number of different countries and from a wide range of industries. When economic times are tough, businesses that are tied to the local economy, especially those with many customers in industries that are hard hit, will suffer the most.
Internationalization as a Specialty: If you have an international reach or can offer products and services from around the World, this will set you apart from other businesses that still have a local mindset.
Benefit from Using Resources from Around the World: Whether you are looking to cut costs on manufacturing/materials or find the most qualified person to work in your operation, you now have the World at your fingertips. While very often it benefits your company to use local resources, you may find that you can be more competitive and grow the business more effectively using resources from further afield.
Future iQ Partners is a consulting and product design company, specializing in helping regions and organizations create their future in a new way. In operation for 10 years, Future iQ is doing business in the US, Australia, Canada and Europe. Managing Director - Europe, Celine Beurle, tells why and how Future iQ is expanding internationally:
" When I started with Future iQ, I wanted to expand into countries beyond Ireland and the Netherlands. I have set up a very strong network via LinkedIn - and I cannot recommend this highly enough. I have connected with 45 key individuals who we wish to partner with, thus to connect us to Clients. In the past two weeks this has enabled us to start the process with 45 people who can connect us to clients in 12 European countries ranging from Latvia, Albania, Georgia through to Belgium, France, Spain and Italy. I have Skype calls set up to go through the finer details of the Partnership and hopefully we can start meeting clients early this year in a range of countries. Our company is expanding rapidly, through new means of networking and it is exceptionally exciting!"
How to Go Global
The Internet Brings the World to Your Fingertips: Whether you are searching on Google for resources in another country or using your LinkedIn Connections to find staff for your World HQ, the internet now gives businesses a way to expand internationally fairly effortlessly. Skype and other VoiP phone services, and the old fall back email, have made regular communications across the World affordable.
International Professional, Industry & Personal Networks Expand Your Reach: Active participation in a network with members across the World not only brings you more sales avenues, but also brings expertise in doing business in the various countries involved, along with connections to relevant people in those countries. Our participation in Enterprise Worldwide, an international network of accountants, has benefited our business significantly. Besides getting referrals for prospective new business, we use this network to gain valuable information for ourselves and our clients on doing business in the members' home countries. The network has also assisted with vetting potential clients and suppliers when it wasn't possible for us to be there personally.
Develop Other Strategic International Partnerships: If you don't have the budget to set up an international office, find a partner that compliments what you do so that both businesses benefit from the relationship; new business in both home countries, new opportunities all around. In a past life I worked for an international printing company, in the fast paced division dedicated to printing documents for financial deals. In order to deliver documents in a short time frame, necessary for these deals to proceed successfully, we needed to set up offices in other countries where delivery was required. My boss there was amazing at how she could fly into a foreign country and within hours find the best place to rent an office, or partner with a local printer, to get the facilities in place. This was before we were all Googling for information and you really had to be 'on the ground'.
Yes, Sometimes You Do Need to Be 'On the Ground': Business styles vary and some work better online than over the phone, but most agree that you still need time in person to really see how things work in a country and to build good relationships. Once you've done the research and set up some resources online, you need to just 'get there'. You can start relationships via email or telephone, but a face to face meeting is in order to confirm that you can really rely on that person and their business -- and vice verse. You can only get so much from reading or talking to others about how things work in a country, to really understand you have to spend time there and pick up on the little things that matter to the people there.
Give the Government Agencies Something to Do: Most countries have organisations that assist businesses looking to set up there. Take advantage of assistance, whether information or financial, that will make your entry into that market smoother.
Your Website is Your Virtual International HQ: Whether you are selling products from an actual shop or offering accountancy services, once your website is online, it is accessible across the World. Don't fight it. Optimize your site to be seen outside your local area and outside your own country. Be sure that you can communicate in ways that suit your new audience.
Internationalise Your Products & Services: I couldn't think of one type of business that couldn't offer something to an international audience -- if it wanted to. If you look at the possible barriers: physical distance, cost of shipping, differences in cultures, etc.; there isn't one that you can't potentially turn around for your benefit. If you sell large products, can you create a smaller version that can be shipped cost effectively? If you provide a service that requires physical contact; can you write an eBook about the benefits of this service that you can sell anywhere? You can get things translated, you can turn physical products in to virtual products, you can manufacture locally -- there are answers if you look for them. Local businesses are responding positively to these challenges every day in order to grow their businesses in ways that aren't available to them if they stay in a local mindset!
Have a Global Mindset: We come across many businesses that have a hard time 'getting their head around' doing business internationally. They see only the limitations and not the benefits. To succeed with a global business you need to be open to the opportunities working in this way can bring. You also need to have staff and other support with the same mindset to succeed.
It's time to think about how your business can "Go Global"!
Click here to read about our International Business Services.
If you are already "Global", are you making the most of it?
Please share your insights in the comments below.