The more technology, communication, and travel options develop globally, the more intimate the world around us becomes. Customers, business owners, and investors are no longer restricted by geography when it comes to building or expanding business opportunities.
Indeed, we do live in a small world. International entrepreneur and philanthropist Tej Kohli can attest to this; as his diverse portfolio (from e-commerce and technology, to online shopping and real estate in emerging economies) spans the globe from the Americas and Europe, to the Middle East and India.
Here’s a look at Kohli’s key market expansion tips for aspiring global business owners.
Incorporate local values into a global plan.
In some perspectives, nurturing a business that embodies global values requires the exact strategic planning and procedures as building a modestly sized local company. Whether your business aspirations are to remain local or go global, the biggest factors to consider are the traits that your company currently possesses. After all, how can you choose a path for the future if you don’t fully understand where you are today?
In order to determine this, Mr. Kohli says you should ask yourself the following questions, and be brutally honest in your answers: In what field do you specialize? What sets you apart from your competitors? Is there a gap in the market that needs to be filled? In what ways can you fill that gap? Are those ways feasible? Where do your finances sit? Do you realistically have the financial clout to expand your operations to a global scale?
If you plan to expand globally, there will undoubtedly be more gaps to fill in the market than there would be if you were focusing on your local market.
Set realistic goals and perform adequate research.
In It’s easy to get carried away setting goals and developing a business model that will extend across oceans, but be sure to identify a real opportunity, and be realistic about the actual demand for your product or service.
Mr. Kohli’s business, Grafix Softech, provides sophisticated, secure payments and solutions for businesses across the globe. In its endeavors, Grafix Softech has encountered a number of behavioral differences between nations. For instance U.K., France, and Germany require an entirely different business model than other European countries. This is largely due to the fact that these three countries make up approximately 75 percent of online sales in all of Europe. In order to reach the rest of the European countries, it’s imperative to perform extensive market research and determine demand.
In the case of Mr. Kohli’s e-commerce business, he had to ask himself a cocktail of questions including: Will goods be paid for by cash, or will cards suffice? Will you focus primarily on invoices, or debt collection? Are there facilities available to accept cards as payment? What fees are involved? “These nitty gritty details are easy to overlook,” he says, “but they can make or break a company that wishes to expand globally.”
Consider legal and cultural differences.
Any time an entrepreneur aspires to expand operations across the globe, there will be a diverse set of legal, structural, and cultural differences to consider and potentially manage.
Some of these factors are glaringly obvious: Time zone differences, language barriers, currency exchanges, and cultural norms. Other factors are much more involved, and will likely require the expert knowledge of lawyers and other professionals in the native country and the foreign one. For example, tax law is an especially tricky area for expanding businesses.
However, when it comes down to it, business is business. There are similarities that stretch across every culture and every nation in the world. So that being said, the key is finding a healthy balance between your goals and aspirations and finding ways to manage the inherent differences between cultures.
Choose the right people and nurture their talents.
Through his extensive experience as an entrepreneur, Kohli has found that one of the many secrets to success is hiring the right people. Furthermore, nurturing the talents of the people you’ve chosen will get you much further than showing them the door and blindly replacing them. “Global ambitions don’t change this principle,” he says. “It’s actually more important when the mission goes global.”
The more successful a company becomes, the more important it will be for the leader to trust the team. Any business with a global perspective absolutely has to have people in place who adequately understand the laws and customs of their country when it comes to running a business.
“I believe that harnessing the power and ideas of young people is the key to business and economic success. Business is driven by technology and younger people – who have never known a world without computers and who will have completely different expectations from their aging parents,” Kohli explains. “The advancements in technology over the last three decades have been incredibly vast and encouraging, and these changes have happened during the impressionable developmental years of young people today. Any company that overlooks the potential asset young people could bring to their organization is missing out on a gold mine of fresh ideas this group of professionals bring to the business world.”
Ultimately, if you are a business owner who plans to expand operations, it would be in your best interests to identify those professionals who have found success before you. Learn from their mistakes, soak up their wisdom, have the courage to take calculated risks, and dare to push the limits of your current endeavors.
Teddy Hunt is a freelance content writer with a focus on technology. When not behind a computer, Teddy spends the majority of his free time outdoors and resides in Tampa, Florida.