1. Know Your + (aka Competitive Advantage)
You should already know what sets you apart from your competition by now but before you start your venture into new markets, it is important that you study your global / regional competition and know where your business stands.
2. Analyze Your Resources
How much money, time and talent (manpower) you have in your organisation will determine if the time is right and if your business is ready for overseas expansion. This also affects the number of new markets and go-to-market speed. Besides having sufficient funds, having a dedicated person who can oversee the international business development efforts is also critical.
3. Pick the Right Markets
Every country differs in jurisdiction, culture, barrier of entry and demographics and doing extensive market research on the potential markets is essential if you do not want to waste your time and effort. After understanding which markets are best for your business, you can consider starting with the markets you are more familiar with or have existing connections.
4. Pick Your Preferred Strategy
There are several market entry strategies and the difference is in the amount of capital investment required and also the amount of ownership of the foreign operations. Essentially, it depends on your risk appetite. Here's a chart that illustrates the point.
For companies that are new to new market development, it is advisable to start with the Export strategy if you're selling products and the Licensing Strategy if you're selling technology. If you're selling services, you can look at an agency or outsourced arrangement at which your overseas partner sell and market your services under their brand or yours. This arrangement requires low capital investment but also gives you low or zero control of the foreign operations.
For mature companies that already have presence in many countries, the Joint Venture or Greenfield Strategy would be advisable, especially if you want to maintain a certain brand standard.
5. Formulate Your Expansion Plan
With the information gathered, work out a plan that includes the target audience and go-to-market strategies.
Target audience - who are they, what are their gains and pains and what thought processes do they go through before purchasing?
Go-to-market strategies - how are you pricing your product, what channels are you using to reach your target audience and what messaging would you use to introduce the product?
6. Choose the Right Partners
In order to fast track your go global efforts, work with partners that can bring you the access to your networks of choice. International business development firms, go-to-market business consultants, government agencies that help with internationalisation, chamber of commerce and associations with overseas tie-ups and connections are some of the types of partners you can work with. Most importantly, pick partners you can trust.