Are you an entrepreneur thinking about entering the international market? The global marketplace offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to expand their business. Buying or selling products or services internationally gives small-medium sized business owners the potential to increase revenue, profitability and competitive advantage to support sustainable growth.
Entrepreneurs should consider these seven things as they prepare for expansion into an international market.
1. Ask yourself, “Are you ready?”
Entrepreneurs should assess their current situation before taking their company globally. Ask yourself, “Do I have the time, people, leadership, and finances? Did I research to see if there are government support and funding available?” Another important question is, “Will my products and services stand out against the competition in foreign markets and can I adapt to the needs of the customers in these markets?”
2. Research the target market
Before you consider selling your product or service internationally, understand that success in Canada does not guarantee success in other countries. Understanding the culture and the demographics of the area you plan to target is essential in supporting the successful launch of your international expansion.
Conducting focus groups and surveys with knowledgeable participants, for example, can offer insights into how the product or service will do in the specific market. If there is a different language in the new market, take the time to translate marketing materials. Sometimes direct translations may not have the same meaning in another language, so be sure to review and adjust marketing materials to ensure that the audience understands the message correctly and it has a positive response.
Make sure to research all rules and regulations. Even in Canadian provinces, there are different rules and regulations that businesses must follow, such as Quebec who has different language laws that all businesses must adopt.
3. Gather as much Information as you can on the customs and etiquette of the country.
You should learn about the foreign market you plan to do business with before you enter the new market. Understanding the customs of the country can be as simple as the proper way to greet someone, how to dress depending on the time of day or occasion, and even times for dining with clients.
4. Gather information on the value of the currency of the country you plan to do business with.
When you begin negotiating in the market you have chosen, it is important to consider currency fluctuations, the cost of the currency today versus tomorrow. Learning about the country and the fluctuations in their currency will help prepare you and your business for the future.
5. Gather information on the laws of the country that govern how business is done .
It is helpful to have a local expert who can review the different regulations and laws of the country, including making you aware of any potential problems or challenges you may have. it is important to understand any laws that could possibly govern any contract you may have before they become binding.
6. Study your competition
Simply put; what have your competitors done? What obstacles did they face when they entered the market? Did they have to change their marketing tactics or alter the product or service to increase their chances of success? This is when finding a mentor is key. Someone who has done business with the country before can provide a wealth of information and save you time and money.
7. Plan and Execute
Finally, mapping out your plan for your business’ global expansion is important. Make sure to include a budget for the project, opportunities and risks, channels of distribution, pricing and specific goals for the new market. Seek the guidance of support from subject matter experts in international trade.
To learn more about available Canadian government resources for importing and exporting, visit:
- Exporting and Importing – cbo-eco.ca
- Government information sessions and seminars – mississauga.ca/mbec
- Steps for entering a foreign market – bdc.ca
- Trade Commissioner Service – tradecommissioner.gc.ca
- Export Development Canada (EDC) – edc.ca
- Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) – cbsa-asfc.gc.ca
The Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC) is your central source for business information, resources and guidance. For information and guidance, visit MBEC on the fourth floor of the Mississauga Central Library or by phone or email.