Business across borders
By SANDY CLARKE
Business is all about the bottom line and if a company wants to maintain healthy profits, it needs to stay relevant and know how to adapt to changing needs.
Most important of all, an ambitious business needs to become an ever-present name on the lips of consumers and potential investors alike. There is only one way to achieve this aim: through growth and expansion.
In my experience, as a journalist who has interviewed CEOs, business start-ups and strategic advisers, business owners who fail in their overall objective to grow fall into one of two categories: they either swing from idea-to-idea (“as entrepreneurs do”) but never settle long enough to build a solid foundation, or they are so cautious and task-orientated that they fail to see the bigger picture of what their business can become.
Growing a business, even for the most seasoned CEO, can seem like a daunting task. Crossing borders and whole continents presents enough challenges for a traveller of leisure, let alone an organisation that is looking to break into unchartered territory and unfamiliar markets.
Scotland’s first self-made billionaire, Sir Tom Hunter, believes the best way to achieve success in growing your business is simply to roll up your sleeves and do it.
Sir Tom has told countless business students that there is “too much reticence” towards growth for fear of making mistakes.
As he puts it:
“Whatever you want to achieve for your business, just get on and do it because by the time you’ve ticked off all your checklist, someone else on the other side of the world will have had their idea, put it in place, become a billionaire, and you’ll still be working on your business plan. Learn by doing. People think ‘If I don’t do anything, I won’t make a mistake’ – what a stupid attitude.”
Benefits of organisational growth
There are a number of benefits to developing your business and putting the steps in place to ensure growth and be able to take it into new territory.
One such benefit is prolonging the sales life of your products or services when you find new markets to sell them in.
Another is, if your business is “plagued by destabilising fluctuations in your markets due to seasonal changes or demand cycles, you can even out your sales by tapping markets with different or even countercyclical fluctuations”.
But the question is how does a business expand across borders? It’s all very well talking about the wonders of taking your business into new territory, but as any good CEO will be thinking, “Tell me how it’s done.”
… And how?
Forbes.com – a leading business news and financial website –advises that the first step to take is to consider whether a prospective market is big enough to warrant expansion.
They advocate thorough research to ensure any potential revenue more than covers the additional expenses that may be incurred through expansion.
CEOs are also made aware that, even though they might stumble upon a fruitful market, they’ll need a workforce in place to maintain company standards and deliver on quality of service as well as business objectives.
If your business intends to source additional staff from the country into which it’s expanding, keep in mind that thanks to increasing competition (particularly in developing markets), employees need not remain “grateful that they have a job”.
Compared to ten years ago, employees have more of a choice in choosing where to go, especially if they’re considered to be top talent.
As an aside, Generation Y employees are more likely than their predecessors to up and leave a company if it doesn’t fit with their needs.
With this in mind, it is vital to offer healthy incentives to prospective employees. Exchange the question “why do you want to work for us?” for a list of reasons why people should come and work for you.
Do you provide health insurance? A decent superannuation package? Are bonuses available? Allowances? Are you a company that truly values its employees? Do you pay a competitive salary?
If we can take a moment to cut through the saccharine rhetoric that usually comes from selling your business, most employees are driven by two desires: to feel comfortable financially, and to know that they are valued and are making a real contribution to the team.
If your employer branding can tick these two boxes, you’ll have a better chance of attracting top talent.
Cross the T’s and dot the I’s
Another important step to consider when taking your business across borders is the regulations that are carried by the relevant country. It will be necessary to meet with either a lawyer or a representative from the Department of Trade to find out the requirements, visa issues, capital necessary and tax laws before doing so.
According to Forbes, while sorting out the legal necessaries can be time consuming, you should “never rule out the global marketplace as you may find that entering emerging markets will offer you a landscape with fewer competitors and a faster growing market sector”.
Know the culture
If you are planning at some point to grow your business beyond its current boundaries, the value of embracing culture and customs wherever you choose to settle can’t be emphasised enough.
A business based in Malaysia looking to set up in Europe will be warmly received if it’s perceived to be “local”, which is to say that efforts to align your business with the culture, customs and social norms will greatly improve customer relations.
In any business move, be sure to create great impressions with whoever you encounter. Your business reputation will flourish much more if other people are saying good things about it, than if you simply pay for advertising yourself. Therefore, creating a “local” feel for your business, wherever it is, will improve your image and reputation. Furthermore, it will go a long way in ensuring a healthy bottom line.
Related article: 10 Things HR Managers Need To Know As Business Grows
Sandy is the editor of a regional magazine based in Scotland, UK. He has a keen interest in what makes great leaders tick and in helping others to unlock their leadership potential. Drop us a line or two in the comment box below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more How To articles, click here.
Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 4 April 2015
Sandy is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, and previously enjoyed 10 years as a journalist and broadcaster in the UK. He has been fortunate to gain valuable insights into what makes us tick, which has deepened his interests in leadership, emotions, mindfulness, and human behaviour.