Running a Small or Medium sized business is exciting and challenging alike. In many cases, the business owner isn’t just the owner, but at the same time, also works as a marketing manager, business developer, finance director and a number of other roles.Although this can sometimes be very difficult, in return, the number of possible directions an SME can take in order to grow is astonishing. In today’s saturated market, the idea of expanding internationally appeals to a growing number of businesses. In fact, rapid globalisation and development in technologies, such as fast internet, makes this expansion more possible than ever before.This is especially true for businesses selling their products online.

A recent study, shows that more than 20% of consumers regularly buy goods from foreign retailers. As you can imagine by looking at these numbers, if conducted successfully, an international expansion can bring some great benefits to your business. Before that happens however, it is important to remember that this is a very difficult task and can not only take a lot of time and research, but also money. Indeed, some of the largest brands in the world have failed their international expansion rather miserably simply due to the lack of important data and information.

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In order to increase your company’s odds for successfully penetrating the chosen, foreign market, its essential to undertake a few steps. Doing this will allow you to better prepare your services and products for the international customer.

Translate your material

One of the biggest mistakes SMEs make when first entering a foreign country is assuming that because a certain approach worked in their home country, it’ll also work abroad. This, depending on your target country, can be either wrong or very wrong. There is a number of different factors which can affect your international expansion, both directly and indirectly. Political, religious, social and cultural as well as language and economic factors can all make the difference between failing and succeeding.

Consequently, taking the time and carefully localising your services and products for the local market can be extremely beneficial in the long run. Without a doubt, all marketing material and legal documents simply must be localised if you’re seriously thinking about taking over a foreign market. One of the best solutions in order to assure that your material will be localised appropriately is working with professional translation agencies. Such agencies will ensure that your documents are not only accurately translated language-wise, but also that for example, marketing materials, are suitable for your target audience. This is, indeed, extremely important as it allows foreign consumers to fully understand your products and services as well as core brand message.

According to a growing UK Translation Agency, Translation Services 24, in the recent years the amount of UK SMEs and business owners who decide to expand internationally with the help of their translation services has increased enormously. This trend also seems to be confirmed by LR, agency only specialising in Marketing Translation Services, which states that professional websites and e-commerce sites can only thrive and take advantage of globalisation if are accurately translated.

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Get to know your market

Getting to understand your target market is perhaps one of the most crucial elements of expanding business internationally. This, quite frankly, can indeed take a lot of time and money as well as requires rather extensive research, nevertheless, it’s simply a step without which, expanding and developing your brand in a foreign country can be catastrophic. As mentioned before, there are number of factors such as economic, political or religious which can have an impact on how your product or service is perceived. Surely, finding the right market, which is not only culturally close to your home market, but also isn’t saturated with similar services to yours can be quite tricky. A great example of a company entering a foreign country without any localisation whatsoever is one of the largest companies in the world – IKEA. In 1974 IKEA entered Japan with their range of furniture designed for European households, which naturally are much different in Japan. Of course, not only the company failed miserably and had to withdraw from the Asian market, but it also took them over 20 years to get it right. You can read more about thishere.

Key player – Consumer

Similarly to understanding the market, understanding your consumer is simply essential. When working out who the people who may potentially be buying your product or service are, you must take a number of aspects into consideration. Demographical, Geographical or Psychographic are just some of the factors which might have a direct impact on your success. Do people in certain area earn enough to be able to purchase my goods? Will their religion or political views influence their decision? These are the types of questions you must ask yourself and find the answer to before targeting a foreign market. The ‘PEST’ Analysis is truly a great place to start as it allows business owners to understand their potential customers in much more depth.

As you can now hopefully see, expanding your company to a foreign country isn’t an easy and straightforward task. Your success depends on a number of factors which can directly or indirectly affect your situation. Anything from translating your business material and localising the language, running a PEST analysis of your potential clients or understanding how saturated your target market is and how the competitors work can make the difference between a great success and spectacular failure. An important thought to remember when expanding business internationally is that there are no shortcuts. What may seem like a great idea because it’ll allow you to save time and money in the short run, can be very costly in the long term.

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