New overseas partnerships also offer an opportunity to develop and innovate with additional resources and fields of expertise.Expansion is costly and time-consuming so it must be thoroughly researched. As such, here are eight things we’ve learnt about expansion that you may want to consider. (1) Prepare market entry To succeed there must be a clear gap in the market. New entrants will face stiff competition from established local operators so a unique selling point (USP) that is culturally relevant and differentiates a product or service is a must. (2) Use data for insight Take the time to measure market demand and competition for your product or service. Be sure to gather data on economic trends, political stability, foreign investment and approval procedures, import and employment laws, among many others. It is crucial to learn as much as possible to underpin a launch plan. (3) Have a robust supply chain Research the environment, work with trustworthy, capable partners and plan ahead to ensure the supply chain is strong and reliable, or the business will fail to flourish. (4) Build strong partnerships Partnerships are not only important for the supply chain but also to help broaden the scope of a company. To partner with a business with a different area of expertise means, different minds and talents can work together to create more innovative and advanced products. (5) Be aware of operational challenges It is a difficult task to set up an office so select someone with a track record to launch and manage ongoing developments. Ensure this person understands how challenges such as language or difference in business culture may affect day to day work and plan for time zones and working practices that may not align with the way the UK works. (6) Think of the end user With all the detail required at the back end, it is easy to forget the customer. The only way a market entry will be successful is to build a loyal customer base. Products and services should be adapted or created to reflect real needs – just because a product worked in one territory doesn’t mean it can work in another, a product experience or usage may need to be adapted. (7) Be agile Challenges will occur, so plan to be agile and be flexible. If something does not work try a new angle. Ultimately, it is crucial to research and plan to ensure the fastest route to profitability. (8) Budget, budget, budget Too many businesses fail because they underestimate the cost. Legal and accounting fees, staff costs, travel, office set up – the list goes on. Budget for the detail and ensure there is a contingency for when things go wrong. Jason Yang is UK MD at Hikvision. Growth for SMEs can be tricky, particularly where international expansion is concerned. But it doesn’t have to be, writes Adam Reynolds, the CEO of webexpenses, in the first of two insightful features.
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