Besides achieving independence and financial success, entrepreneurs can have varied objectives and mottos that change with time. But ultimately, the core objective of every business owner is to see the venture they’ve put many resources into, gain traction and secure an optimal level of success.
And what’s a more lucrative and optimal level of success besides your startup expanding across borders? Few, if none.
We have to acknowledge that in this fast-paced modernization era, going international with a startup or a business is much more streamlining than it has ever been. Nonetheless, it’s a path even innovative and prominent entrepreneurs have failed to sail through. Yes, it’s an exciting and lucrative venture, yet it can be treacherous.
Going international doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it has to be an utmost priority from the very beginning of kickstarting your startup. Even with a comprehensive business plan, you have to be knowledgeable about the specifics of each country or region you are venturing. Still, there is a lot more.
Before deciding to leap overseas, you have to be wary of the following factors. Or else, you might as well be setting up for failure, losing lump sums of money, and tarnishing your reputation.
Things To Consider When Expanding Your Startup Globally
Evaluate if You Have The Funds and Customer Base You’ll Need
Scaling across borders is expensive regardless of a firm’s size. And it goes beyond the costs involved. Time and other opportunities will be at stake. Scrutinize your startup’s finances and determine if you have the funds to cover the initial investment and sustain the growth you intend. Also, bear in mind success is less likely to be immediate.
Costs of expanding vary depending on the region and significantly unique expenses applicable to international expansion such as customs. In some countries, though unethical and illegal, you have to part with bribery to get things done. Therefore, it’s vital to work with professionals, a legal team and accountants, to enlighten you on the costs associated with your targeted expansion area.
Another significant consideration is whether you can build a solid customer base internationally. There is no doubt your product/idea sells well in your home country. But will this trend continue in international target markets? Is the economy to your intended market comparable to the one you are operating in? While still factoring out on this, you should consider if other players might give your startup a competitive edge.
Tax and Employment Regulations
Taxation regulations vary from region to region. Still, all taxmen want to capitalize on contributions from foreign businesses operating within their jurisdiction. Again, the insight of professionals (tax structuring advice), preferably an accountant, will go a long way in ensuring you receive favorable taxations.
Your startup doesn’t have to be on the receiving end of unfavorable tax implications. Therefore, examine whether your intended region laws encourage trade by lowering tax obligations for foreign entities. Familiarize with the local payroll tax laws, social security payments, sales tax, or VAT to ensure compliance.
Also, startups expanding globally should consider the local labor and wage issues and corporate structure decisions. Besides impacting taxes, you want to avoid chances of disputes or employees raising potentially harmful claims against your yet-to-be-established venture.
The Marketing Strategy
Sounds obvious, right? Still, it should be an utmost priority. First and foremost, the marketing strategy you applied at your parent location may not be viable in your prospective target area. Therefore, it would be best to revise your marketing strategies so that they are apt to the expectations and laws of the intended country. For example, you should consider the language, and importantly, the various cultures will be crucial in relaying the appropriate messages.
Again, relying on experts, a renowned local marketing firm, is the most effective way to highlight your brand in the best light to locals.
Intellectual Property (IP)
The struggle to protect ideas and intellectual properties is a significant setback for many businesses expanding to international markets. In some cases, especially if your startup offers a unique product, there is a chance another firm might copy your product. For instance, Trunki, a marker of popular rides on children’s suitcases, ventured into the Chinese market, and immediately, other competitors copied their products. As a result, they incurred heavy losses compared to profits of their previous year.
Your startup should register their IPs ( trademarks, patents, design rights, logos, trade secrets, and in general, anything you have specifically developed ) before venturing into foreign soils. This way, you can protect your brand identity, cushion your startup against prospective IP infringement lawsuits and other firms that can’t use your IP.
It gets better considering that IP, unlike physical assets with a defined location, isn’t bound with geographical restrictions. Thus, you can move IP between countries regardless of their tax systems.
As already outlined, expanding globally will splash out your pockets. So, for example, it would be best for you and some team members to spend time in the country you want to break into. Consequently, you can gather appropriate information, pinpoint prospective customers, distributors, competitors, and better understand the systems in play.
All in all, always do your due diligence before making business decisions regarding international expansion. Yes, it might be a high-end endeavor, but you will garner crucial insights than conducting research online.
Restrictions for packaging vary in different countries. For example, most developed countries require disclaimer alerts on tobacco products such as cigarettes, while some underdeveloped countries forgo such information. Therefore, you must ensure your packing aligns with the practices of your intended location. Also, this will go a long way in your marketing strategy.
As you can imagine, expanding your startup globally isn’t a walk in the park. We have highlighted in detail the top things to consider. Still, there are several other factors, but in general, legal advice, research, and tips from other entrepreneurs with experience will play a critical role in a streamlining expansion.