How to expand your business internationally

Following the rollercoaster events of last year, the world has become an unpredictable place and many British businesses are approaching international expansion with significantly more caution than they would otherwise. Whilst the doom-sayers may claim that expanding in such times is unwise, with the right technological infrastructure and people on your team, this is the perfect opportunity to break in to those overseas markets.

The European Commission predicted in early February 2017 that every member of the EU, including Britain, is expected to grow steadily from 2016 to 2018 – which hasn’t happened since the financial crisis over 10 years ago. The European Commission also predicted that Britain’s own growth would increase from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent in 2017. So, if you’re looking to expand your business internationally but have been holding off, it seems now really is the time to look beyond the horizon and maximise on the opportunity. Here are my top four tips on how to successfully do it.  

Get technology savvy

The world is an increasingly digital place and to ensure your expansion overseas is as successful as possible you need to have a strong grasp on the latest technology. The ability to target specific market demographics online means that you can keep close tabs on return on investment and profit margins which will be essential when scaling your business. 

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Implementing key digital communication tools is essential. Technology such as iMeet that allows you to share your computer screen, instant message, take part in live chats and invite large numbers of colleagues to join in on important meetings will significantly help the team to stay connected and keep on top of important actions during the expansion. With so many components working at once, it is essential for the entire team to be on the same page, and this is only achievable through a seamless technological infrastructure.

Be ready to adapt

The key to success in my experience is to be adaptable. Those who can adapt to new foreign - and often fluctuating - markets will without doubt come out on top. The ones who are resistant to the sensitivities and differences of new markets will end up falling behind.

The art of adaptation is not simply changing things for the first two or three months, but being ready to react to anything that crops up along the way, at any time – it is a case of having a clear strategy but at the same time remaining in a constant state of flux.

Nurture your business relationships

Keeping costs down as much as possible when expanding internationally is a top priority. So, it’s important to nurture your business relationships in the markets you are looking to move in to. Being able to keep in touch with key business partners at all times, regardless of where they are in the world, through the latest technology will ensure that they become mutually beneficial long term partners. This will help to prevent huge price increases overall, and could provide invaluable inside information on overseas markets, which could be the difference between successful integration or failure. 

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Look out for top talent

Thriving businesses all have something in common; they are constantly on the lookout for the best and brightest talent that can propel the business forward. This is even more essential when looking to expand overseas. Having people who are invested in the business who have knowledge of the markets you are trying to break in to, and in particular insight into employee laws and taxes of the region is crucial to success.

While it might seem counter-intuitive to have a recruitment drive during these uncertain times, having the right people in your company at the right time will be vital to adapting quickly and efficiently. It could be the difference between making a profit or a loss.

The businesses that will succeed with their international expansion in 2017 will be the ones who are ready to adapt, focused on building strong relationships with partners in new markets and most importantly, embracing technology at the heat of their business. 

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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