Flexibility, change and reinvention are part of the challenge of being an entrepreneur whether you are creating new services to meet your client needs, exploring new opportunities or marketing to potential customers. Consider expanding your business to take advantage of opportunities in other parts of the world. Diversifying into different markets can help you mitigate risk in economic downturns and market fluctuations.
In this article Conny Millard, Director of Millard Consulting Group Inc. gives her insight on how you can confidently extend your business into a new market.
1. Define Borders. The first need is to identify personal, social, community, national, international and cultural borders. Start with self examination – do you believe you have the skills to do this? Determine which region you want to focus on – your own community, province, country or other countries. Define cultural borders by understanding cultural differences and commonalities.
2. Business Plan. Create a borderless business development plan with clear objectives: financial, brand, and operational. These objectives should be measurable and have timelines. For example, in 12 months I will have $50K in additional sales with a 15 % profit margin.
3. Marketing. Cultivate key relationships in your chosen new markets such as suppliers, strategic alliances and contacts from trade and business organizations. Stay current with what is happening in your new markets. Think about how social media might help you with this.
4. Operation. Use written contracts to ensure clarity, remove uncertainty and avoid future conflicts in your international operations. Stay updated with the logistics of international shipping. Streamline payment procedures and payment structures such as PayPal to ensure your international payments are in place for transactions. Talk to your bank advisor to understand the payment processes.
5. Communication. The world has become a much smaller place with tools like Skype, GoToMeeting®, iChat, IM, etc. You can set up face to face meetings through some of these programs at the fraction of the cost it would take to travel. Remember to present yourself appropriately with professional dress even if you are talking from your home office at midnight and your lighting should reflect an office environment.
6. Cultural sensitivities. Research to find out how business is conducted in your new market. Keep your language simple, clear and concise. Build trust by quietly and consistently delivering on your promises.
Don’t let self-doubt limit the growth of your business. Boldly move forward and accept that LinkedIn request you might receive for further business discussions.
There are resources available to help you. Visit our online calendar for upcoming seminars on the topic of expanding to new markets including “Take Your Service Business Beyond Borders” in May, 2012. This workshop will focus on opportunities for service based businesses.