Knowing when to expand is always an important skill to have in business, but it takes a keen knowledge of your industry. If you’ve ever considered making the big leap from being a domestic business to an international company, you might not be able to count on your usual assumptions. Below are four signs to look for to determine if your business is ready to expand on an international level.
You Already Have Customers
The surest sign that you need to expand internationally is that you already have international customers. If you have a significant part of your customer base jumping through hoops to do international business, you need to bring your business directly to them. If people are willing to deal with the vagaries of international transactions just to get your product or use your service, there’s likely a bigger customer base awaiting you in that area after expansion.
There is Market Demand
Don’t just count on your gut feelings—do some industrial market research to determine if the market is really looking for a business like your own. Hire specialists to help you determine if what you offer is available in those areas. If it is not available, would people be interested? If it is available, is there room in the industry for your business too? If your particular corner of the market isn’t doing well in your target country or it looks like it’s due for a downturn, it may be time to play it safe and stick to the one country you do business in.
There’s an Obvious Niche
It might also be a good idea to look into international expansion if there’s a niche that you could fill. You might notice that no one is really doing what you’re doing internationally even though all the pieces are in play for someone to make a move. In this case, you need to move quickly so that your business can be in on the ground floor of something special and jump on the opportunity before someone else does it for you.
When You Can Deal with the Risk
Finally, you’ll want to understand if your business is in a position to take this kind of risk. If you have a significant amount of operating capital and can theoretically weather the storm of failing during the expansion, it might be a good idea to give expanding a shot. You need to be in a place where your expansion efforts can encounter a few roadblocks and can even go poorly without destroying your main business before you expand. If your investors are on board with the idea and are willing to shell out, that will put you in a better position from the start.
It’s always good to be on the lookout for signs that you can expand internationally. This is a decision that shouldn’t be made likely, but it is still one that can be quite beneficial. If all the signs point towards this kind of expansion, it’s time for you to start the process as soon as you can.