What can help SMEs in expanding to international markets?

Running an SME is certainly exciting. It guarantees a number of difficult challenges as well as rewards at the same time. The drive to grow is surely something that motivates and pushes business owners and allows them to stay dedicated. The number of possible ways for the company to grow is, quite simply, astonishing. In fact, it was never easier for Small and Medium sized companies and businesses to expand and conquer international markets and customers then it is today. In today’s globalising world, reaching to new foreign consumers is simpler due to the development in technology e.g. fast internet, which allows the customers to browse and purchase products from a company based across the worlds in just minutes.

The rewards for a successfully conducted international expansion can be truly great. Before that happens however, it is important to remember that this isn’t an easy task and takes a lot of research and preparation. Indeed, even the world’s largest companies such as IKEA failed miserably due to the lack of knowledge about their target markets.

Before your international expansion, it is key to undertake steps, which in the end will allow you to prepare your company, product and service for growth and perhaps mean the difference between a great success and a spectacular failure.

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Understand the market

Frankly, understanding your target market can take a long time, money and tons of research. Nevertheless, this is simply an essential step without which a business owner shouldn’t even think of an international expansion. Gaining knowledge about such things as your competitors, market saturation, pricing or even legal matters such as patents can be extremely valuable. When entering a foreign market your company must be extremely careful and ready. Imagine a situation where due to the lack of appropriate research business chooses to enter a market which is already saturated with the product they offer, with excessive competition and low prices. Certainly, not a desired scenario.

Understand the customers

Another crucial matter business owners must understand fully and thoroughly before entering new markets with their products and services is perhaps the game’s key player – the customer. There is a number of elements which the customer can be understood through – from their geographical and demographical to psychographic and behavioural values. When expanding your business to a new, foreign country, it is essential to understand what drives people and their consumer behaviour. Will they have enough income to purchase your product? Will their religion, political situation or social customs influence their purchasing decisions? Conducting the ‘PEST’ analysis, (Political, Economic, Social and Technical standpoints) will allow you to get your homework done.

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Business translation

Localising your product or service for the particular target market and audience can be extremely beneficial. Of course, everyone prefers to read information in their native language. Even when purchasing a foreign product, the customer expects a professional company to provide information that can be easily understood in their native language. Unquestionably, marketing material such as website or brochures simply must be translated into the target language, allowing the consumer to fully understand what your company and service is all about. A number of business owners in order to save money in the short-term uses the inaccurate and automatic computer translation services. In the long run however, this can be a very dangerous practice which instead of saving money, brings more costs and compromises your company’s professional image. Truthfully, the only solution for translating your website and other business material is the use of a professional translation agency which specialises in translation services and can guarantee accuracy. Such company can guarantee not only a word-for-word translation of your business material, but can also localise your text, making sure that it is culturally and socially appropriate in your target country.

As you can see, expanding a business internationally isn’t an easy task at all. It certainly takes a lot of effort, research, preparation and, let’s be honest, money. It’s important to keep in mind however that it is better to be safe than sorry. Investing to, for example, translate your website professionally, might cost more in the short-term, but in the long term the return on your investment can be great.