In the current globalized world, access to international markets offers unprecedented opportunities for business success and growth. However, enterprises’ internationalization takes thorough strategic planning, a deep analysis of destination markets, and a will to fit the cultural and commercial dynamics of unique situations of the countries.
In this article we will look at the 5 main steps of the entire internationalization process, emphasizing the best practices to successfully address this process.
Step 1: Corporate assessment, marketplace and product analysis
The process of business internationalization must begin with a rigorous analysis of the company, of the marketplace, and the product to export.
We must first evaluate the company organizational structure by considering various parameters including the corporate business model, the business volume, the share of total export sales, export strategy, human capital resources and market positioning.
In parallel, sharp foreign markets analysis to identify expansion opportunities, examining the company’s compatibility with the target market segment. At the beginning, it is recommended to focus on one or two markets on which to concentrate your resources, rather than trying to cover many countries.
The evaluation should include research into demographics, economics, cultural and social data of potential target markets, but also the sector trends, the demand for the product or service concerned, human needs and consumer preferences, lastly the presence of local competitors.
In this analysis, it is imperative to consider the bureaucratic aspect of the target country. This means knowing the tax laws, taxation rates, customs regulations, and contracting law. In fact, every country has specific reference standards for: tax regulations, customs regulations and trade; a thorough understanding of these legal requirements is essential for operating in a new market. Business internationalization consulting can be very helpful in avoiding mistakes. At this stage, it is obviously crucial to consider the suitability of the product with respect to the target market, including assessing the relationship between the company’s production capacity and market demand.
Step 2: strategic planning and logistics
Once target markets have been identified, it is fundamental to develop a detailed strategic planning for the internationalization of your business. This involves defining the specific goals for international expansion-such as expected sales, market share, or increased profits-by establishing an action plan with clear deadlines and resources allocated to each step in the process.
At this phase we will also need to focus on organizing operations and choosing the appropriate distribution channels to successfully reach customers in the new market. You can opt for direct sales or distribution through local partners or e-commerce or a mix of these options, depending on the type of product we handle, and the market penetration strategy established. Thought will have to be given to supplying resources, logistics management, and the adapting to local regulations.
It will also be necessary to choose whether to open a subsidiary abroad-a legally independent branch office from the original enterprise-, whether to move part of one’s production abroad, whether to carry out direct or indirect exports, and possibly which foreign business partner or brokers or trade agents to involve in the operation.
Stage 3: product or service adaptation
At this moment, we are right at the core of the business internationalization process, and it will most likely be necessary to adapt your product or service to the local context. This stage requires some cultural sensitivity–in addition to the analysis of the target market culture conducted in stage 1–because what works in one’s own country may not go as well abroad.
Learning how to communicate effectively in different cultures and tailoring offerings to local preferences is key to gaining consumer trust and building a solid presence in the new market. The one-size-fits-all approach, unfortunately, does not work in international expansion. Changes in product design, packaging, or branding may then be considered. A careful marketing strategy will also need to be studied where the message and advertising campaigns are adapted to reflect local culture and preferences.
Stage 4: market testing, sales and export
Only after all these steps have been taken can the actual product export process take place and/or business structure setup in the foreign countries proceed.
First, however, it may be advisable to run a market test and scrupulously analyze results obtained. This will enable any changes and optimizations to be made to the chosen internationalization strategy before larger resources are invested.
If everything works out, you can proceed in full effect with sales and exports, with the assurance that the process of business internationalization will be a very powerful lever for your business growth.
Step 5: continuous improvement
International expansion is an ever-evolving process, requiring flexibility, the ability to meet challenges and readiness to adapt to changing circumstances. The work required by internationalization, therefore, will never really be finished. Growing and thriving in the global market will require analyzing successes and failures to constantly improve one’s strategy and operations. With this attitude, it will be possible to successfully take your company abroad and build a lasting international presence.
Need help taking your business abroad?
Looking for an experienced professional to support you in internationalizing your business?
Then get in touch with no hesitation for a free consultation and find out how I can help you!