Recently, we have been talking to a number of our clients about how they can achieve successful international expansion. It’s funny how the zeistgeist works that way.

Their international expansion plans are pretty diverse. They have two things in common:

  1. a sense that what they are doing in their current markets would have value elsewhere
  2. a view that international expansion is a good route to growth.

Some of our clients want to expand in to the UK, and some want to expand out to other countries. There is an interesting diversity of target geographies, and of course, our clients operate in different sectors and markets, so they all have their own particular angle on what they think will work for them.

Through all these conversations and the help we are giving to them to do successful international expansion, we have been able to identify some of the things that are working. We think these are applicable regardless of sector or market. We won’t tell you how to do them (that’s how we earn our fees!), but we’d love to hear from others who have been responsible for delivering successful international expansion, to see what they think.

To deliver successful international expansion we would recommend that you:

  • Invest in your research – speak to contacts and operators in the country in which you want to expand. Seek out a diverse set of views and ask them to challenge your preconceptions of the market in question. Avoid a knee-jerk decision to expand.
  • Have a plan – set out what success looks like and what your goals and targets are, over a set time-period.
  • Test and refine your proposition – make sure that your entry products or services are really focused, specialised and fit the new market’s needs. Generalists and those who just assume that they can roll out their existing product in a new market don’t prosper.
  • Invest in more research to test the proposition – go back to your contacts and network.
  • Get the talent right – finding the right local representation is key. You can have the best proposition, but without the people to sell and communicate in the new market, it won’t work.
  • Trust yourself and have patience – international expansion takes time. If you are confident in your proposition and your talent, then give them the time and space to succeed. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction to close-down.

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