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Important Lessons We Learned When Expanding to a Global Market

Expanding to new markets is an exciting venture for many entrepreneurs and CEOs. It pushes business owners to think about a broader market and opens the door to a larger footprint. Many businesses have managed to strategically launch in other countries, however, there were a number of lessons learned along the way. Here is some advice that business leaders wished they had known before taking their organization global. 

ON TIMING: 

Diego Caicedo, co-founder and CEO of OmniBnk, noted that this process can take a lot of time and resources, regardless of size. If your company does not have the time and team needed to be involved in global expansion, it may not be the right time. "Companies should evaluate whether or not expansion is indeed beneficial, or if it will only take away from their core business," Caicedo said. "It may be better to serve one country well than several countries poorly." 

ON LANGUAGE BARRIERS: 

A few businesses have learned that hiring bilingual staff is extremely helpful when it comes to translating. Barriers in languages not only happen in translations, but laws and terminology vary from coast to coast. According to Josh Robinson, vice president of franchising and development for Pearle Vision suggests hiring a lawyer and translator from the country you’re moving to. He also suggests getting a local person’s perspective to understand the culture and how your tiniest move could affect the market for some consumer goods and services outside the U.S. 

ON CURRENCY: 

In some instances, it is necessary to set up a separate foreign business entity and bank account when dealing with business overseas. Tax codes, business regulations, and even standards for packaging differ across the globe. Trevor Cox, chief financial officer for DataCloud International Inc. – which has offices in the U.S., Canada and Australia – said compliance was the biggest challenge DataCloud faced when expanding overseas. Additionally, foreign banks may not assist businesses due to the burden of working with a U.S.-based account, so you may have to set up a separate foreign business entity and bank account to make handling transactions worthwhile for the banks. "It took just as long to set up a local bank account, with many banks declining to work with us because we were too small," Cox said. "We had to switch to an international bank, which had offices in Australia." 

ON EMPLOYEE BUY-IN:

Whirlpool CEO David Whitwam said it takes time to get complete employee buy-in when scaling globally. Business owners should not expect the transition to happen overnight. “Bear in mind that we have many, many employees in our manufacturing plants and offices who have been with us for 25 or 30 years. They didn’t sign up to be part of a global experience… Suddenly we give them new things to think about and new people to work with. We tell people at all levels that the old way of doing business is too cumbersome.” Take time to build trust within your organization and work toward sharing your vision with your employees. Help them understand that the benefits of expansion include utilizing resources from international shareholders creates value to everyone - including them. There will always be lessons to learn along the way as you grow your business. We at Castus Global have been through global expansions for hundreds of organizations. We understand the critical data points, the markets, and everything in between when it comes to business development, and we are here to help so that the “advice you wish you knew” is covered from the very start. 

It’s Time. Go Global. 

There is no better time than now to consider global expansion. Our years of experience entering global markets can ensure you have the research to support the decision, along with a strategy to successfully implement. For more information on our global business development services, contact us via email (hello@castusglobal.com) or submit a form on our contact page.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin @belart84 from Pexels 

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