International trade is a complex and challenging endeavour for any young entrepreneur looking to extend and grow their business. Younger first-time business owners may sometimes feel that these challenges are insurmountable. Fear of failure may paralyse them into inaction or, at minimum, cause them to put off a realistically viable startup and mute their expansion ambitions.
While fear is a natural protection mechanism for many scenarios, it shouldn’t be this way for younger entrepreneurs hoping to delve into global trade. If you have strong experiential or academic background knowledge of economics, supply and demand, product development, and how to navigate regulatory processes surrounding distribution, then other tasks such as learning how to send money to USA suppliers and freelancers or where to find affordable website hosting seem like entry-level problems.
Let’s take a closer look at a few things you need to consider before taking your business overseas to unfamiliar markets.
Do Your Research
First, make sure the local markets that you’re looking to enter become intimately familiar. Conduct thorough research about the business climate, cultural norms, and consumer behaviours within the locale you want to enter. You’ll need to find out what regulatory barriers await you, and how they differ from Australia’s. Finally, you should do a considerable amount of market research, both examining the wider industry you’re looking to enter as well as any market niches that your products or services could potentially fall into. How does the current competition stack up? Is there sufficient demand for your product to justify the expense of expansion?
If you’re a millennial, then you are likely already more familiar with using the internet as a valuable research tool than your senior colleagues, who didn’t always have a world of information at their disposal. Thankfully, the internet can be a veritable goldmine of information for even the most niche subjects, including import/export regulations for foreign countries. Most countries now post their regulations concerning international trade online and on their own government trade websites. From here, all you need to do is read through these digital resources and familiarise yourself with all the necessary guidelines or regulations you’ll need to adhere to if you’re looking to export your business products overseas. You can often apply online for certifications or permits, should they be required.
Build Local Partnerships
Ironically, international expansion aspirations can be cultivated by getting to know your local colleagues in the business world. Reach out to your international network in order to ask for guidance and inspiration as you plan your next steps. And don’t stress – if your industry network is still developing, there is an abundance of other valuable resources that you can use. For instance, try talking to your existing suppliers or distribution partners about their own experiences doing business internationally. Find out how they got started; perhaps they’ll be happy to pass on valuable knowledge to a young person like yourself who’s just getting started.
If you’re a recent university graduate, most schools also tend to have international business curriculums, with professors deeply ingrained in global communities of executives. These resources are also invaluable and likely won’t cost you anything to utilise, especially if you’re finding these connections through your alma mater. One introduction alone could reap huge benefits in terms of developing working relationships with foreign industry leaders or even other like-minded entrepreneurs working abroad.
Develop Your Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve been able to pinpoint which industries you’ll be jumping into, it’s time to turn focus to the consumer bases supporting these industries and how best you’ll be able to reach these prospective patrons. After all, the last thing you’ll want is for any elements of your marketing campaign to commit cultural faux pas and turn off potential buyers with ill-advised advertising that uses the wrong terms or languages.
Become familiar with who you are marketing to at all times. Get well acquainted with who is buying your product at home, then translate this knowledge to your overseas market without overstepping boundaries, and you will have every chance of finding success. Two invaluable (and low-cost) tools for engaging with consumer expectations are reading over Amazon product reviews for similar products, and engaging with prospective buyers or markets on the social media platforms that are most utilised by the demographics you’re looking to reach.
Entrepreneurs looking for additional guidance with all things marketing can also enlist the help of a specialised or even locally based digital marketing agency for some expert insights. If you’re not looking to outsource your marketing and campaign strategising, however, then you can find similar insights and helpful tips from your wider network, once again.
Shipping And Logistics
Safe, efficient, and on-time delivery of your products is critical to maintaining favourable customer relationships, especially for enterprises with an international consumer base. Consumers naturally tend to use suppliers from their homeland first, so you should be extra focused on providing superior customer service as you serve overseas buyers.
In business, your reputation is everything, especially in the online market, where feedback and reviews are always just a few clicks away. Be sure to use only reputable providers for warehousing, transfer, and returns processing. Even more critical is using only the safest and most secure online payment systems for processing orders and credit card payments.
Be sure to also seek out local supply and distribution service providers so that you have a reliable presence positioned to receive your exports. Many logistic providers are out there, but their footprints overseas may vary from location to location, depending on the infrastructure they have in each corner of the world. Find out which ones are the major players where you want to be, and then look into online reviews and any other feedback that you can find on their services and performance before reaching out yourself.
Prepare Properly And Conquer International Trade
With a well-orchestrated strategy in place and plenty of market data up your sleeve, there’s no reason why your foray into foreign markets can’t be a highly lucrative endeavour. Just be sure to keep your perspective, and maintain a realistic approach when it comes to identifying and addressing any barriers that you may face, be it logistical or regarding the design or presentation of your products, services, or even your business branding. So long as you’re able to form strong partnerships, and lay clear groundwork with regards to your supply and distribution and other vital logistical considerations, you’ll find that branching out into international markets can deliver a return on your expansion investments faster than you may think.