Global Expansion - Begin With These 4 Steps
If you have been thinking about expanding past your domestic borders, but are still processing where to start, how to write your plan, or what subject-matter experts to hire you are off to a great start. The international strategy should take some (ok a lot) of consideration and time to develop the right plan. However, there are some things you can do now and simultaneously with your plan to maximize your timeline and feel like forward progress is being made.
1. SECURE YOUR I.P.
If you have read our previous blogs you have seen this before, but it is the most important first step. Secure your domain names and trademarks as soon as you can. If you have patents you can or want to protect, file them and capture any social media handles that you want in the markets you think will be most important to your brand or product.
2. COMPLIANT PRODUCT
Grab your product list and note which ones you want to sell internationally. Then find a great regulatory agency or consultant to review your formulas, packaging, and claims for key markets. After you get the analysis back, segment your product into three buckets:
⭐ Product you can sell now with no changes
✍🏼Products that need packaging/claims updates
✍🏼 Products that need formula revisions PLUS packaging/claims updates
With this list, you can set a product roadmap for which products will be exported, how long they will take to be ready and what actions need to be done to get them compliant. Since the product rework may take several months, it is great to get this task underway as soon as you can.
🔥 Hot Tip- With large trading and economic blocks like the EU, regulatory evaluations can be done for all the EU versus country by country.
3. GO HUNT
It is not too early to start putting feelers out for potential partners, great retailers, media and PR companies, or logistics and import agencies. Doing the research early and even making those connections could save you valuable time once you are ready to export. If you don’t have connections in those markets, find trusted people that can introduce you or consider working with agencies that will represent your brand to their contacts. In addition, many governments have a commerce department that is a wealth of information and help.
✔ Call or email your government commerce department. They can also provide information, contacts, and introductions to local businesses.
✔ Attend trade shows. Go on your own or check if your government will have a commerce booth and you can attend with them. This is a good option if you need a visa or other requirements to travel to a specific country that can be hard to come by.
4. VET PROSPECTS
Whether you have leads coming from international markets or potential partners you connected with, gather as much information on leads as you can. Check out their websites, find others that may have worked with them, do some good old internet-sleuthing to get a good idea of how they might be as a partner. Get your list together and decide your first preference. Collect contact information and/or reach out to them to get an early read on their level of interest. Finding the right partners can be challenging, so the more time you can devote to vetting them, the better decisions you can make when your international plan is ready to activate.
If you're ready to take your brand global, we recommend reading our book, Whip Fire Money to help get you started. International can be a profitable opportunity and our passion is to work with owners, managers, and key stakeholders to create the best international structure for their brands. Please email us at email@example.com or find us on LinkedIn if you would like specific guidance on driving your global vision forward.