Many of the business owners I mentor love a challenge and are always looking for new opportunities to grow. One of the opportunities that many consider after they have attained a certain level of success with their business nationally, is if they should go global. New markets, faster growth and higher profits are all potential advantages of doing so. But if you don’t proceed cautiously, making this leap can be ill-advised and costly.

Here are some key points to consider when deciding to expand your business internationally:

Pre-Expansion Questions

Before deciding whether to expand internationally, business owners must ask a few important questions to assess whether their enterprise is well-positioned for such a move. These questions include:

  • Do I have the resources to expand?
  • Will expansion affect my ability to operate successfully in my domestic market?
  • Is my business model exportable and is my success replicable in outside markets?
  • Is the timing right for this?

Once you feel these issues are addressed, you can begin to take concrete steps toward international expansion.

How to Proceed

If you have determined that your business expansion is viable, the next step is an evaluation of other potential growth markets. This evaluation should include the following:

  • Research to gauge how much demand exists for your product or service in potential markets
  • Research into local jurisdictional issues and regulatory requirements
  • A plan for securing facilities for local operations if needed
  • A plan for identifying and hiring international personnel
  • An assessment of the local business, political and social culture where you would be expanding
  • Research to understand the IP laws and requirements in the international markets you plan to enter to keep your IP assets protected

It may also help to consult with an advisor or hire a third-party advisory firm to conduct the necessary research. They will be able to analyze the viability of potential markets and can provide invaluable information on local customs, laws and business practices.

Don’t Underestimate Difficulties

Business owners often underestimate the challenges of operating internationally. Regulations and laws are constantly shifting, and meeting the associated compliance demands is often difficult and time-consuming. Be aware of this since a failure to stay within compliance regulations could have devastating legal and financial ramifications.

The Next Step

Expanding internationally is a critical decision, so it is imperative that you conduct exhaustive research before committing. By assessing these issues, you will be able to determine the viability of going global. If research is favorable, you can then develop a strategy for successful market entry.