An easy guide to developing an international business strategy

Do be present and visit your new market as often as possible

Further to the above, however established, celebrated and stable you are in your domestic market, you must see your company as unknown and untested in the new country. 

My advice here is to regularly visit to build credibility and establish relationships. This will help you to become involved in local industry, and ensure you never develop an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude to your new market. 

When I look at those businesses which have been most successful in new markets, they are those who have been present in a new market and continuously visible. It takes time and money, yes, but you are investing in relationships and a new venture.

Do create support networks

Your challenges will have almost certainly been faced by others. Reach out and find experienced businesspeople or trusted government representatives; they will have interesting insights to offer you as a business mentor. 

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a contact in the same industry (for competitive reasons), but it would be good to choose someone from an established company or trusted government representatives who can help you find the lay of the land.

Don’t shun “co-opetition”

Aside from your mentor(s), another way to collaborate is to join or establish a consortium of complementary companies from your region or country. So few companies do this, but “co-opetition” is the new norm for international business and it enables you to leverage each other’s networks and resources, and even split some of the costs.

The “Post” perspective

Keep up the good work

Successfully entering a market can require a huge amount of effort initially, which may not be sustainable in the longer term. Despite this, it is important not to let standards slip and to remember that you may be viewed as a newcomer for longer than you consider yourself to be one. 

As such, be sure to maintain good habits, like following up after every meeting or interaction. It may seem like Business 101, but following up is surprisingly uncommon. I try to send a thank you note or points from the meeting as quickly as possible following all meetings, along with any relevant material or information. 

It is these small things that can make all the difference. The most successful companies I have worked with send a follow-up note within two-to-three days of a meeting.

Expanding your business is exhilarating, but is fraught with risk and situations that seem daunting. However, a thorough strategy will minimise risks and maximise opportunities.

My advice is to apply a simple Pre-Pro-Post approach to your strategy development. It can be a useful and easily understood approach for all your team members as they help grow your business internationally.

Aaron Rosland is a senior economic officer and counsellor at the High Commission of Canada – find out more about using Ontario, Canada as your platform for expanding into North America.

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