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10 Things to avoid before you move your business abroad.

Taking your company or business abroad is one the biggest decisions any business owner will make. There’s a lot more risks and uncertainties to consider. Even if you are smashing it in your home ground there’s no guarantee the same will happen abroad. However, if the transition is done right you’ll have the potential to be rewarded with success and profit.

Have you ever thought about moving your business abroad? You have the choice to make a physical move or even testing the waters by creating a new website to promote your services or ecommerce business. If you have contemplated these ideas then have a read at the ten things you’ll want to avoid before jumping straight into foreign water.

1) Poor Planning

It seems obvious but a lot of businesses have a ‘let’s move and see what happens’ approach. Just as under-planning is a mistake, over-planning can also waste time, especially as trends are constantly changing. Nobody can ever be 100% prepared to take the leap but by creating some strategic marketing and advertising plans while doing research on the culture and social nature of the location you will feel a lot more confident. It could be an idea to take a trip over and talk to some locals before making any major decisions. There are definitely some essentials that will need looked at too e.g. tax implications and legalities.

2) Moving to the next best hot spot

Just because you’ve heard that countries such as South Korea and India are on the rise and are the next top trending markets doesn’t mean you should immediately set up there. And the same goes for established locations. Having a spot beside Time Square, New York would be great but you also have to consider the costs of rent, living and employees. It’s all about what’s right for your business.

3) Underestimating the competition

Knowledge is power and your competition has the advantage of understanding the market better, you may not be able to beat them on experience but there are other ways to win your market over. Create a detailed competitor analysis and make sure you’re hitting that gap in the market and stay focused to that niche. You will be surprised how much interest you will create by just by being the new kid on the block. It’s in that time you need to make it really count so you can get the conversation started.

4) Expecting your audience to speak English

If you’re not making it easy for your audience they are going to ignore you. Common Sense Advisory actually found that 60% of regular online shoppers rarely or never buy from English-only websites. Even if they do speak English it’s more effort for them to read and listen in English than it is their native tongue, make it easy for them and they will hear you. By speaking their language you showing that you respect their culture and do value them.

5) Cheap video localisation services

It’s not just the website that will need a foreign language make over. It’s the packaging, the online videos the social media marketing. Some businesses don’t think about these things till the last minute and in a panic hire a freelance voice artist to record. Yes, it can be more cost effective but if you don’t speak the language you have no way of validating the quality or knowing how to check for errors. Voice over agencies like Matinée Multilingual can guarantee a professional recording and even localise on-screen text.

6) Listening to your audience

As well as speaking to your audience in their language you also need to listen to them. Advanced technology and the constant connection we have means that customers are savvier than ever. It’s more the customers now who create the image of a brand and it’s their choice to make or break it. If you are lucky you could have the next trending product or service. And if you don’t listen to what they are saying they can ruin your reputation within the space of a few blog posts.

7) Being culturally insensitive

It’s crucial you understand the culture, even the basic etiquettes before taking your brand into new lands. Nintendo had to be very careful when it came to localising the game ‘Xenoblade Chronicles X’. The Japanese might have been ok with a 13 year old game character having a sexualised appearance and wearing a bikini but not a European or American market.

8) Allowing your international team to run the show

Yes, they will know the market, the culture and the language but it’s a mistake to let them run wild. As the saying goes ‘everyone’s in charge but no one is responsible’. Having no organisational structure will only lead to animosity and a bad culture within the team. All actions and decisions should be centralised by one person who will understand your business just as well as you do. They should be someone who will give you confidence on the entire move from start to finish.

9) Expanding too quickly

Make sure you have ironed out any issues at home and that your supply chain is working effectively before even thinking about moving to a new market. Trying to rush certain processes will only earn you a bad reputation which could take years to recover from (if you recover). Business owners make the mistake that countries that speak the same language will have the same set up as their home market. Starbucks learned the hard way when they came on to the scene in Australia and also Target when they simultaneously opened multiple stores throughout Canada.

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10) Forget your home market

Is your business running smoothly on a day to day basis? Can your employees cope in your absence? If the answer is no, you might have to invest more time at home. Once the time is ready for you to explore further opportunities abroad then be prepared to devote a lot of your time and effort but don’t neglect your home market. At least one monthly check up should keep you in the right.

Nothing can prepare you 100% on what to expect when moving your businesses’ location but if get the basics down you’re on the right track. An international move is a delicate balance of timing and cultural understanding. With any big risks there are big gains. The question is, have you got what it takes to make this gamble pay off?

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