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Going global: how to take your business to the world

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Why take your business global? A better question may well be why not. The first good reason is market size. There are four million people in Sydney. In Australia, 22 million. But in Asia? Expand into China or India and you can reach billions. Imagine achieving your current market share but in a marketplace that’s bigger by an order of magnitude. Another good reason is that - with today’s cloud computing and communications technologies - ‘going global’ has never been easier. It’s also true that if your business works in Australia, where regulations and costs are high, it may well work even better overseas. So, if you want to take on the world, what should you do? Decide whether it’s for you To be successful in an overseas market, you will have to like to travel and adapt well to different cultures. Politeness and charisma will take you far. Consider also whether your product will travel. Will you be able to service and distribute it overseas? What tools will and won’t be available, and is your business model likely to stack up? Decide where to go With Australia’s resources, high level of education and good business reputation, we are well placed to attack most overseas markets. However, your most important decision will still be which country you’re going to target. Popular destinations at the moment include China (Beijing), India (Mumbai) and the Middle East (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). You might already have a place in mind, but put a lot of research into which markets are best matched culturally and economically to your product. Examine the restrictions that apply to each market. Are foreigners allowed to own businesses, for example, or do you have to give a local partner a majority share? What other governmental and bureaucratic restrictions exist? How much will you be taxed? What kind of reputation does the country have? Manage your expectations If you’ve chosen the right overseas market, you can expect your business to proceed in more or less the same way as it did in Australia. Expect initial running losses. Start conservatively so that you don’t over-invest. Aim to have a presence that’s as inexpensive and light-on-the-ground as possible. You could test the water by running some Google or Facebook ads to see what demand for your product might be. Use the right strategies and tools When setting up overseas, make sure that you do the following: Spend time there first. Spend at least a week in the country to better understand it and its customs before you start trying to do business. Get local help. If you don’t speak the language, find a local English speaker you can trust. Get a good address. If you want to succeed, don’t do business from a suitcase. Use a good serviced or virtual office to get a local phone service and access to meeting rooms. Use the cloud. Make sure that your business systems are cloud-based. From your email to your customer relationship tools and accounts software, the cloud is the best and most cost-effective way to build a global infrastructure. Get a local website. Don’t make the mistake of simply having your Australian website translated into the local language. Every country has different expectations when it comes to the web, so get a local developer to build you a site that fits the local norms. Don’t forget your business at home The biggest mistake you can make when trying to succeed overseas is neglecting your business at home. Plan for how you’re going to watch and manage it while overseas. Again, cloud computing and communications will help you here. Summing up For those who successfully take the plunge, going global will take their business to another level. Of course, there are no guarantees. But with the right planning, research and strategies, making your business a world-beater might be easier than you think.

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