For many businesses, successful growth and expansion into international markets is the ultimate goal.
Breaking into these new global markets can give companies a greater sense of recognition in the eyes of their customer and competitors, but behind the scenes, it can take a more business-wide effort to make sure it’s done right.
Cracking the global market can be tricky, and according to new research from the Harvard Business review, only a handful of organisations have managed to get a return on their assets. Having reviewed the success of 20,000 companies from 30 countries, the study found businesses operating abroad had an average yield of less than one percent–even five years after their initial expansion.
For the majority of business included in the study, most reported it took nearly ten years to generate returns of +1%, with only 40% of companies turning +3% in that same timeframe.
While this data does indicate it can be arduous to expand into new territories, it’s testimony that it’s not impossible. If you’re willing to take the risk, the returns can pay off four-fold if you have the right strategy in place.
So how can you make sure you have the right plan of action? Many businesses will do whatever it takes to reach their goal, which can mean sacrificing other elements that make them different from the rest. But others will choose to drive forward with their vision without compromising their company culture, as it can come down to finding that happy medium.
Growing your business without compromise
There is always give and take when it comes to the growth of a business. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone to follow, and if you currently operate across some sectors, what works for one area of your business may not work for another.
Nevertheless, the answer is not to completely replicate what other businesses are doing to achieve the same goals; it comes down to remaining unique, identifying what you can offer that’s different, and building your vision around that.
Remember it should always be about creating value. Not just for your profit margins, but your brand as a whole, your employees, and a positive company culture that is the beating heart of your business. You’re never going to increase value by diluting what you already have, so no matter what you need to give to engage a new industry, try to keep that solid foundation.
Identifying your target market
The first step towards successful global expansion is to determine the markets you want to break into. Look at your current customer base, analyse your product/service or, if you have an in-house market research team, have them find the area that has the most value or where the industry is likely to peak next.
Stepping out of your comfort zone into a new market is always more of a risk than expanding into an area where you’ve already experienced increased success, but if you can find the right niche, you’ll reap the benefits. Plus, if you’re also at the forefront of developing a niche service in a new location, you’re more likely to have a greater impact.
When we decided to expand our niche services into new markets, we knew the areas that would be a good fit. Nelson Frank and Jefferson Frank were launched following the increased demand for ServiceNow and AWS professionals.
Choosing the right markets should set you up for success, as it’s never valuable to compromise the products and services you offer just to break into a market that looks to have more profit. Not only could this cause your expansion plans to falter, but it could also have a negative impact on the work you do in other areas.
Investing in staff teams
Breaking into a new territory can be a challenging time for any business. Building up a brand won’t just come down to the exclusive services you can offer an area, it’ll also be dependent on the people you have on the ground to help make it happen.
Building a new business hub in North America or Europe is a massive undertaking, there are many individual markets you’ll have to contend with. However, you can avoid these obstacles by bringing in people who have previous knowledge in your chosen market and how businesses currently operate there.
A strong company infrastructure is a vital part of business success; you’ll need to have the right people in place from C-suite all the way to ground level to ensure they can help you grow successfully while also maintaining the standards your business already set.
When creating your expansion team, it’s important to invest wisely in the recruitment process to appoint people who work well with your current team, but also work to deliver improvements to the services you offer in a new area.
These people will safely guide you through the expansion journey, and help you to achieve success no matter where you are in the world, as they’ll ensure you choose the right areas to expand into at the right time.
If you’ve already spotted a new opportunity for your business to grow its services into, stand your ground, start planning your staffing priorities, but make sure you’ve done all the market research to ensure you hit the ground running.
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About the Author
Zoe Morris is the COO of niche IT recruitment firm Frank Recruitment Group, overseeing the company’s ongoing business and sales operations, employee training, and hiring initiatives.