Success comes in many forms for small businesses, and one version of success is expanding operations beyond the borders of your country. Many businesses don’t even consider growing their companies into other countries, but doing so – in the right situation – can significantly increase your revenues. So when is it the right time to expand?
1. Your Customers Are Asking for It
While surveying your customer service inquiries, perhaps you see that several customers are asking whether you carry your products in a neighboring country, such as the U.S. Knowing that demand is there can be impetus enough to start your research to better understand what it will take to move into new markets.
Depending on what you’re selling, there may be quite a process to get approved to sell in a new country. Medical devices and pharmaceutical sales, for example, undergo a rigorous application process, so find out everything you’ll need to do and what paperwork you’ll need to file, and build that into your timeline.
2. Your Business is Growing Fast
If you’re satisfied with the amount of market share you have in Canada, taking on a foreign market may be the right challenge for your business. If you’ve established effective processes and procedures that make selling and delivering your product easy here, they should transfer over to new markets for the most part.
Think about the processes that may be involved. Spend some time reviewing them and determine how much would have to be changed in another country. For example, would you have a local warehouse for your products in the new country or ship from Canada? Would you need to find new local suppliers for your materials?
3. Your Team is Ready to Tackle the World
Because your staff is essential to your success at home and abroad, you’ll want to make sure they’ve got the training and resources to handle international efforts. Likely, you will need to expand your team as you move into new territories, but you’ll want a team that’s worked with your company and product before to help you launch elsewhere.
Once you decide you want to expand into a particular country, advertise for employees in your home office that have experience in foreign countries – particularly the one you’re targeting. You may want to have some international-focused employees in your primary headquarters, as well as those you will hire at your stores or offices in the new country.
Ready for World Domination?
Moving into new territories is a fantastic way to take your business to the next level. Just remember: slow and steady wins the race. It’s important that you take as much time as possible to get the transition and expansion down to avoid costly errors.
You may want to employ the assistance of local experts in your country of choice who can help you navigate difficult bureaucratic waters, and who can help expedite the process. Once you’ve secured your foothold in the new market, you can consider additional countries you would like to have a presence in.
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Andrew Patricio is the founder and CEO of BizLaunch, a company that trains, advises and mentors entrepreneurs. Andrew has written two books on small business, started seven businesses, and has helped thousands of entrepreneurs in Canada get their businesses up and running.
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