How to expand your start-up business
So you’ve been running your start-up business for a while now and feel the time has come to expand? You’re in luck. With the advancement of online technology it’s never been easier to grow your business internationally, with translation services, overseas banking and global travel more accessible than ever. With the right strategy, resources and hard work, systematic upscaling – from local, to national, to international – makes good business sense and could see your business successes multiply.
- Start By Going National
Expansion doesn’t have to mean overseas. Most small businesses start in a localised area, so the next logical step is national expansion. Start with locations nearby and work outwards with additional premises or stockists, providing an effective kick-start to any business’s expansion plans.
- Plan For International Growth
If overseas growth is on your wishlist, then planning is imperative. International expansion can often be prompted naturally by enquiries for overseas delivery or services in other languages. A good rule of thumb is to start thinking about international expansion once your custom base comprises 25% overseas orders. Start by planning out timescales, logistics, and costs. Will you need to accept a different payment method? Are there any trade restrictions on your products? Learning about local customers’ expectations and needs could also make all the difference – maybe they have a need for a product or service you don’t yet provide, or perhaps you will need to alter your offering or marketing slightly?
- Focus On UX
UX, or User Experience, might be the buzzword of the minute – but ensuring customers have an enjoyable and stress-free experience is key to encouraging repeat custom. Pay attention to your physical storefront if you have one, as well as your website, social media, and telephone activity. When it comes to translating websites and collateral into other languages, use a diligent translator to avoid blunders which could detract from your authority. Make sure all staff are briefed and on the same page when it comes to interacting with customers – offer guidelines on brand identity and company tone. Consulting with staff can also help determine what your customers want, what their most common problems are and what could improve their experience.
- The Importance of Language
Language is one of mankind’s most subtle developments, and can be hard to navigate. You’ll need to ensure that every point of contact with the customer is available in the required languages. But what’s more, you’ll need to understand the intricacies of the area you are expanding to, as colloquial language can change from place to place. Think of the UK, and how many regional words we have for a bread roll…
- Research, Research, Research
Whether you’re expanding to a neighbouring city or across the continent, understanding the context of your new area and its customers is imperative in business success. Cultural differences across countries can be staggering – did you know that in Romania receiving an even number of flowers is considered bad luck, and that the number four is bad luck in China so gift sets rarely contain four items.
- Consult a Legal Eagle
Whether you are setting up bricks-and-mortar premises abroad or arranging to sell your online products or services internationally, legal matters can be complicated. The best way to navigate unfamiliar terrain is with help from a professional, and there is no substitute for consulting a trained legal advisor to ensure everything you do is legally correct.