By Stephen Pritchard
Launching a successful business can feel like a monumental achievement, but eventually the dust will settle and you’ll confront yourself with a simple question – what next? For many young entrepreneurs the answer is just as simple: find opportunities for growth.
Choosing to take your business global can be the direct road to rapidly accelerating its growth – but how can you tell the time is right to get your business a passport and take it into foreign lands? A lot of it will be down to your gut, but you can give your gut a helping hand by cross-checking it with these 7 points.
1. No Illusions
You’re under no illusion that going global will consist of business class flights around the world, dining out in new cities, and meeting the man/woman of your dreams in the most impossibly romantic way (your undeniable love easily overcoming any cultural or linguistic differences). Instead you’re prepared for longer working hours (particularly if you’re working across time zones), the new sensation of being frustrated by bureaucracy in a foreign language and, best of all, the immense satisfaction that will come from seeing the fruits of your labour.
2. Clear Purpose
Whether it’s to grant you access to cheaper raw materials, to diversify your revenue streams or simply to increase the size of your customer base, you can identify the purpose for going global. Being clear about why you want to expand outside your borders will help you set focused goals, improving your chances of success.
3. Aware of Risks
While the opportunities available for going global are vast you know they come with risks. You’ve minimised the risk to yourself and your business by thinking about how you’d cope with potential cash flow problems, adjusting your business to local customers and complying with different regulations and standards. You’ve consulted with organisations that are designed to help companies expand, such as UK Trade & Investment in the UK, and you’re even prepared for Plan C if it comes to that.
You have a good idea of how much money you’ll need to comfortably expand your operations and you feel confident that you’ll be able to raise these funds. You’ve researched your options thoroughly and know that you’re getting the best deal possible. If you don’t know the difference between crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending you probably don’t know about all the options available to you.
5. Existing Demand
While you’re confident you could sell ice to the Eskimos, you’ve nevertheless made sure there is demand for your product or service in the markets you’re targeting. How you know demand exists isn’t important – you might have internal data that shows your website has substantial unconverted international traffic or you might have done plenty of research that has revealed a gap in the market just waiting for you to fill it.
6. State of your Business
It’s likely that your business is stable, allowing you to focus your time and energy on proving that the world truly is your oyster. On the other hand, perhaps you’re aware that your business isn’t performing to the best of its ability and have identified that international expansion is a way to remedy this. Either way, you’re confident that your business won’t suffer by broadening its horizons because you’ve done thorough research and double-checked your sums.
7. Decision Time
Like delivering the punchline of a joke, timing is critical to your chances of success. Leave international expansion too late and you might miss an opportunity, but rush in without preparing properly and you’ll trip over yourself. Once you decide the time is right there’s no backing down – you’ll need to do everything you possibly can to make sure you end up on top of the world.
Stephen Pritchard works for Funding Circle, a peer-to-peer lending platform that connects investors directly with small and medium sized businesses in the UK. Since launching in 2010 more than £260 million has been lent to British business. Find out more by visiting them online at https://www.fundingcircle.com/.