2 Blunders Businesses Make When Going International (And How to Avoid Them)

October 7, 2015    

By Omar Allam, CEO & Founder – Allam Advisory Group

Executive Summary

When a company is considering international expansion, there are a number details to consider: why should I consider exporting or expanding at this time, are we ready to go global, what criteria should i use to determine which markets are best for my growth strategy, which global markets present the most opportunities, what type of entity to set up, how much money do I need to budget for international expansion, etc.

Though the details may vary depending on country and company specific circumstances, there are two common mistakes that businesses headed overseas make that can be easily avoided:

  1. Standardizing products and services. The “one-size-fits-all” mentality doesn’t apply in a global marketplace. What works in the Canadian market may not make sense in the Middle East—your marketing tactics, sales strategy, even your actual products may have to change completely to fit local expectations and preferences. Being sensitive to regional needs tends to be more successful for expanding companies than employing a blanket approach worldwide. Be aware of the specific needs of the market and act accordingly.

  2. Not getting help and the Do-It-Yourself model. Many companies opt to go global for the first time on their own. Though this approach may seem low cost, it’s high risk—you don’t know what you don’t know, and with the myriad of administrative and compliance  involved in setting up international operations, the possibility for error is significant. Working with an global trade advisory boutique that can handle the details, help with building a global market strategy and help with market entry implementation will save you time and, in the long run, cash.

Bottom Line?

There’s no sense sugar coating it: Expanding globally involves challenges. The fast pace of change trying to make things better, faster and cheaper requires the capacity to adapt at high speed from within. Although the budget may be tight, don’t cut corners by being an expert in everything. Going global is a long-term investment, not a get-rich-quick scheme. You need to make sure that your company is ready to go international before you make the jump. You need to invest time and money and you need a solid business plan. Improvisation and lack of planning are recipes for failure. This is where you need to keep the bigger picture in mind.