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So youíve made up your mind: your company is going to expand internationally!!
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In July, we released the first chapter of Winning Globally
UKTIís event in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games highlighted support available to help UK business access export opportunities in east and west Africa.
Top Tips For Expanding Overseas
There's no generic knowledge to learn – investigating selling is investigating an entire country: it's protocols, laws, procedures, regulations, logistics..
Of course you've considered overseas business; otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. Whether you're deliberating complete relocation, exporting, or partial overseas presence, it's important to know the procedures and mechanics of selling.
Of course there's no generic knowledge to learn – investigating selling is investigating an entire country: it's protocols, laws, procedures, regulations, logistics, etc. Yet, there are a couple of issues that are, indeed, applicable to all international ventures, regardless of country or industry.
Chamber of Commerce
A great place to start, no matter what
stage of expansion you're at. This government body can answer your
questions and provide extensive information on such thing things as
overseas agents and taxation. What's more, it's free.
While you're at it, why not get in touch with some other
government agencies, such as Business Link or UKTI.
Consideration of the Big Change
Thinking that your new choice of location will be overwhelmingly different is often unfounded. Indeed, many places aren't just a different country, but a different world – not many though. Generally, however, the nuts and bolts of business are unchanging and invariable. Don't think of it as a foreign market – there isn't much foreign about consumer patterns or spending. But you do, however, have to know what you're doing. Research thoroughly, because otherwise, you could end up losing quite a sum of money.
If you're going it alone, owning all your foreign business without the help which, say, a Joint Venture would provide, then you need to make local contacts. And fast. Building relationships with advisers, or those in the profession of law or finance, are invaluable to make. They in turn will be able to refer you to their local contacts and partners, and before you know it, you've got a network of knowledgeable experts at your disposal.
This growing network will be able to help you overcome many cultural and protocolic issues, from language barriers to understanding regulation.
Never assume your product or service will instantly take off. Indeed, if your product or service is based on novelty, gimmick or a national virtue, you have to decide whether it will sell on the same merits, or if you have to adapt it for a new market. No consideration whatsoever though, could prove fatal. It's all about investigation and research – have you got something of interest? Have you got something adaptable, if necessary?
Remain conscious of your IP, trademarks and copyrights – ensure they are all registered in the country you are relocating to. To say that IP laws and enforcement varies from country to country is a lazy truism – for instance, there is obviously a big emphasis on it in the USA, and conversely, it could be prone to corruption in China. It's important to know the laws, but it's also important to know how easily those laws are manipulated or not enforced.
Protect yourself at the earliest stage possible.
Drawing up contracts with locally implementable arbitration clauses could save you time and money if any disputes should arise. It's the best way to avoid the quagmire of a lengthy court battle: cost-effective, swift, and not made public.