4 key strategies for succeeding at international expansion
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to grow your business internationally, expanding into multiple countries can exponentially impact your bottom line business and brand, allowing you to grow efficiently. Scaling your business beyond borders, however, is a path riddled with bumps and obstacles.
In my previous role leading a food diagnostics company for more than 20 years, I guided its growth from one country to doing business in over a hundred. Our firm became a worldwide player and influencer in food safety diagnostics, and in a matter of years, 65% of our business was outside the U.S. We also achieved 38% market share globally.
We succeeded because we secured data through market research and used the data to inform our global strategy.
Here are a few key strategies to achieving this kind of international growth.
Research your market
The first step is to check relevant market research. You may need to hire a research firm to accurately gauge the geographic market for your industry and product. Be sure to tap into research that drills down into the intricacies of your vertical market and separates out the various geographic markets. I recommend research companies such as Frost & Sullivan, Nielsen, Statista and Gartner.
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Research firms can detail the exact market size of specific geographic areas, competitors, market dynamics, expected growth rates and expected revenue — usually over 10 years. This data is critical when planning for an international rollout.
Market research reports are easily accessible online either as abstracts or the full report for a fee. If you want a custom report, research firms typically take 90-120 days or more to deliver a comprehensive report.
If you operate in a niche, this information is worth its weight in gold, and I recommend hiring a professional to secure the information you need. A customized market research report costs generally from $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the industry and market research organization.
As an example, the company I ran engaged a market researcher to determine which international market we should prioritize, and the present and future product demand for our current and future product pipeline. We also readjusted our product pipeline based on the demand in key international markets.
Prioritize international rollout based on ROI
In order to achieve international growth, you need to plan based on ROI estimates.
Narrow down the markets for the first phase of global growth by determining which is most viable and sizable for what you offer. Assess how easy or difficult it will be to enter a particular market, and whether its size justifies the effort it will take to establish a solid footprint.