International expansion can be a long and arduous process. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course, as the commitment required to see through such a major move weeds out the businesses without the tenacity, strategy or capability to succeed. But, there is a way to shorten the process a little. Here are five shortcuts you can take if you’re venturing overseas.1
1. Considering acquiring a local company
If the idea of an acquisition is something you’re prepared to consider, you may find it’s the perfect shortcut to international expansion. You’ll have immediate access to local markets; you’ll be able to take advantage of local knowledge, relationships and customs; and you’ll also likely to have an existing revenue stream too.
Of course, there challenges to taking this shortcut (for example, you risk being oversold the value of the company you’re acquiring, and you may struggle to integrate your UK business with the one you’ve acquired). However, there are lots of ways to mitigate these challenges if this shortcut appeals to you.
2. Seek out a strategic partnership
An alternative to foreign acquisition is to seek out a strategic partnership, teaming up with a local company who shares your values. The best thing about this is that you won’t need to invest capital up front, yet you’ll still get to benefit from the immediate market knowledge and cultural knowledge your business needs to succeed. However, it’s perhaps a harder deal to strike than an acquisition as it needs to be mutually beneficial without the injection of cash to sweeten the deal, so assess what you can bring to the table and be clear about what you’re looking for in a partner.
3. Have someone else hire employees for you
If you’re going it alone (expanding your current UK business overseas without embarking on an acquisition or a partnership), you’re more likely to succeed if you have the best talent working for you in your chosen location.
The insight local employees provide into culture, customs and the local market is incredibly valuable, so while it might feel intimidating to pour time and money into a recruitment drive in a foreign country, remember that having the right people on your team could mean the difference between success and failure.
However, you don’t need to go through an arduous bureaucratic process to hire employees. There is a straightforward shortcut instead: work with a third party such as Foothold America who are able to hire on your behalf, securing workers in a legal, cost-effective and efficient manner.
4. Make the most of technology
The world is becoming ever-more global with every passing day, so make the most of the technology at your disposal. You can target specific demographics using online tools, and you can keep a close eye on spending, returns and profit margins using other forms of technology too. Even software that allows you to ‘meet’ colleagues, employees, vendors, investors and customers is well worth consideration: it means you can communicate and stay connected without so much as needing to get on a plane. (That said, do travel occasionally – there’s no substitute for a face to face relationship in certain situations).
5. Find a good lawyer
This final tip isn’t a shortcut as such, but it will certainly save you an awful lot of time and stress. A good lawyer is instrumental for laying down the right structure when you’re expanding internationally, so find someone who understands the intricacies of the location you’re expanding to. They’ll be able to guide you through the necessary paperwork and ensure you’re keeping things moving as you ought to be.