As any business operating in 2017 is aware, the modern marketplace is global. The ability to trade and grow overseas offers strategic competitive advantage for any organisation looking to grow their revenues, diversify their risks and expand their target markets. Whether your business has outgrown its foundations in the domestic market, or you have pinpointed an overseas market with a lucrative gap your product could fill, taking your business global is an attractive prospect for future growth.
Some of the specific advantages presented by successfully growing globally include:
You can extend the sales life of existing products and services by finding new markets to sell them in.
You can reduce your dependence on the markets you have developed locally or in the United Kingdom
If your business is plagued by destabilising fluctuations in the home market due to seasonal changes or demand cycles, you can even-out your sales by tapping markets with different or even countercyclical fluctuations.
You can exploit corporate technology and know-how.
Finally, you’ll learn how to compete against foreign companies and even take the battle to them on their own ground.
Gibraltar is a very small market and any business looking to grow exponentially must look at markets beyond Gibraltar. Numerous Gibraltar-based companies have successfully expanded overseas including the Gibunco Group, the Bland Group, MH Blands, and Easy Payment Gateway, to name a few. If you too are considering taking your business to the next level and going global, read our ten-step checklist for achieving your global expansion plans:
- Decide where you want to grow
The world is your oyster; where have you set your sights on? Consider your long-term business goals and choose the location that offers the best strategic advantage; whether in terms of profit, customer base or establishing regional hubs for operational purposes.
- Research your target market
Become an expert on your chosen location and its current economic and socio-political conditions, competitors, customer base. Try to find out how locals do business through networking or consulting local partners.
- Look at your business now – can you afford the operational impact?
Audit your business as it stands today alongside its performance in your home market; consider whether your current core business is strong enough to absorb the impact of expansion.
- Consider timescales
The timescales for your overseas set-up will vary depending on the location and route you choose to take and should be factored into planning; for example, work permit applications for expatriate staff can be lengthy.
- Complete a cost analysis
Put simply; can you afford to do this and what is the best-value option available to you? Expanding into a new location will open your product up to a new customer base, but keep in mind the logistical and operational costs and weigh this up against the potential profit.
- Explore financial/banking requirements
Tight financial processes will ensure your business maximises its profits; look into banking and foreign exchange charges and select the best financial products for your business needs. Check finance and taxation legalities to avoid unnecessary fines.
- Familiarise yourself with the law
Your plans must comply with local rules and regulations; be mindful that they may differ from the laws of your home country and you may need professional advice. Consider tax, labour and immigration laws as well as import and export regulations.
- Prepare an international business plan
Start your campaign to grow by international expansion by preparing an international business plan to evaluate your needs and set your goals. It’s essential to assess your readiness and commitment to grow internationally before you get started.
- Choose the right type of entity
There are many different local in-country entities with varying benefits, such as: LLC / LTDs (Limited Liability Company) PLC (Public Limited Company); Joint Venture; Registered Office for Tax; Branch; Subsidiary. Ascertain which option is available to you locally and best suits the scope of your operations.
- Employ external partners, consultants and support
Build a trusted support network of expert partners such as lawyers, accountants, recruiters, and business advisors.
Along with promise, going global carries an equally heavy load of peril. From chasing too many opportunities to getting whacked by currency fluctuations, distribution problems and the ability to manage customer service from multiple markets. The business of international expansion has many threats that domestic-only business people never see. You can grab the brass ring of growth by going global, but only if you avoid the pitfalls.
A highly useful way of familiarising yourself with new markets, developing a network of contacts in a foreign state and understanding some of the cultural differences and local preferences is by going on trade missions, business delegations and attending international trade exhibitions. One such delegation will be going from Gibraltar to Israel this month (17th-19th October), led by the Gibraltar-Israel Chamber of Commerce. With the looming consequences of Brexit potentially ahead, now is the time to be proactive and explore opportunities overseas.