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Growth in some mature industries may only be achieved by reaching out to emerging markets. To succeed with global expansion you must adopt an internal mindset that treats each new culture as a unique market segment.
Assuming that entering a global marketplace is simply a matter of applying what you do in your domestic marketplace is a recipe for disaster. As you analyze potential expansion into other parts of the world you must start by understanding the differences in each market, as well as the commonalities, with an eye on developing a unique approach to each
Name a champion
Think of your global expansion like you might any large project – the first step is to find, hire, or appoint a champion – someone that can view getting your global expansion off the ground as both a personal and business opportunity.
Understand the business environment
Every market, country, province, region, city and governing body has its own set of rules and regulations and few things will stall your growth faster than failing to understand or, worse, ignoring, these individual regulations. The World Trade Organization is a good place to start your research.
Be sensitive to etiquette
A great of behavior that you might find standard practice may actually be very off putting in some cultures. In some countries “yes” is actually a negative response and a hand shake is considered inappropriate in certain situations. Taking the time to understand the history and cultural norms in a targeted country is part of the mindset.
Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands is a great resource that can help you get a handle on common business customs in many countries. Organizations such as The Lett Group specialize in training international business aspirants.
Determine how your brand translates
Every element of your current brand – logo, colors, name, or packaging – may have significantly different meaning in other cultures. Red may say passion to you, but represent death in another country. You’re clever spelling of your company name with all lower case letters may fit a trend in Silicon Valley and send a signal that you are not a serious contender in another part of the world
It’s important to analyze and retest your brand elements, even if it means you need to significantly alter important aspects of your brand.
Find local agents
One of the quickest ways to establish a local footprint in another country is to find established organizations or partners that could effectively represent your brand. This approach can go a long way towards helping you learn accepted business practices, build trust and get your global adventure started quickly.
You can also look to establish local vendor relationships or relationships with other already established international organizations to help with manufacturing, consulting, transportation and regulatory compliance.
Of course, if you establish relationships with the wrong partners, you may find yourself wondering why your expansion isn’t moving forward. This is place where moving slowly and taking the steps previously mentioned in this post first might make sense.
Create global citizens
Eventually you should look to grow some of your own global citizens. In other words hire with the purpose of expansion. Look for individuals that have international backgrounds and an intense desire and interest in working globally.
While going global has never been easier, you need to view it in the same light as any significant strategic direction and that starts with establishing a global mindset.
Image credit: WilliamCho