I recently returned from a wonderful wedding. It was a beautiful event, executed flawlessly and full of heartfelt moments. The wedding is now over, but for the bride and groom, the process of establishing their lives together has just begun. With this couple, it will require aligning two lives from two different countries.
Dealing with these challenges is part of their journey, one not too different from companies looking to go international. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between the international projects I have worked on and marriage. Below are the top six I have identified, and the details on how you can find and keep your perfect business match.
- It’s expensive
When you get into international business, there will be many costs as the process is not just about quick sales. It is similar to dating. It is pretty easy nowadays to find a date, but meeting that perfect someone and determining if you are compatible for the long haul takes money. The same applies to exporting.
Getting one time orders on your website will not grow your business. It will grow if you plan on investing in a long-term buying and selling relationship. It may take tens of thousands of dollars to reach and retain your ideal international customer base. You will need to budget for hiring new staff, marketing collateral, and travel to follow up on leads.
- It takes time and effort
To successfully export, you will need to spend time evaluating and planning your long-term strategy. This will require determining if your company is really willing to make a commitment to reaching international markets. Your team will need to study industry trends globally, then identify key foreign markets based off of the trade data for your specific products. This is how you monetize your product’s true export potential. Then, your team will need to learn about shipping methods, export documentation procedures, export financing, and other aspects of foreign trade. If it makes sense to move forward at this point, then your company is “export ready.”
- Don’t go into it blindly
Being export ready is like being marriage material in that it starts with two companies being strong on their own. Just like in dating, you do not want rush into it. You want to properly qualify potential distributors to assure they are in it for the right reasons. Your counterpart should be financially fit and well established locally. One that is not only able to achieve your revenue targets, but also provide market stability. Considerations and terms for in country marketing, legal protections, and contingency plans should clearly outline responsibilities for both parties.
- Change occurs through the process
Common goals and interests may attract you in the beginning. As time goes by, however, you want to grow with your in-country representation and keep your objectives top of mind. For this to happen, it will take a lot of creativity, communication and openness to new ideas for synergy to occur. This might mean investing in product adaptations to meet local standards or changing how your company is promoted abroad. To move forward, there has to be trust built with your local counterpart. In this stage of the relationship, you both learn how to whether the ups and downs of the markets together and the other unexpected challenges that are out of your control.
- It’s designed for the long term
When you put in the effort to develop a strong trading relationship, you will want to protect it beyond the initial distributor contact. This could play out in a variety of ways. Regulatory and insurance budgets may need to be increased. Buyers may require more flexible payment terms. Depending on the industry and culture, your company may have schedule regular trips to keep the relationship strong. Whatever the need may be, the extra effort and costs will support the long-term commitment needed for sustained growth.
- Its’s good for society
In their most idealistic form, both marriage and foreign trade should benefit us all. They should be available to everyone and no one should be excluded from having the right to engage in these relationships as long as they abide by the rules. As with good marriages, the best businesses that go global, progress and elevate all of society. They are needed for our survival, and in the best cases, they make our world a better place.