How Do I Expand My Business Internationally? (+examples)

Once your company gains traction and performs well in the local market, going global may present some excellent options for gaining a new level of growth. 

Today's economy allows a wide variety of companies to gain new revenue from international markets, which comprise huge numbers of consumers in both the business to business market (B2B) and selling direct to consumer (DTC). 

How do I expand my business internationally?
You expand your business internationally by doing research. Start by reviewing internal resources (primary research) such as your current customer base to see if there are any connections or review current vendors that may present opportunities. Second, research outside (secondary research) cultural and market opportunities that may match your product or service in order to find a market message fit.

A vast majority of US enterprises believe global expansion is a must-have recipe for long-term success.

But is it for every company?

Of course not. But if expanding your product or service to other international markets makes sense for you, here’s four excellent ‘boot on the ground” strategies that can help you get traction.

4 Ways to Expand your Business Internationally

While the idea of selling to international markets is exciting, the process is often complex and challenging. 

The varying nature of global markets- regulatory frameworks and consumer preferences- requires you to understand the intricacies of business operations in different cultural contexts, complicating the process. 

That said, almost any company can conquer the world market with the right attitude and strategies.

For you to attract potential foreign customers and turn them into paying clientele, you need to overcome the challenges of international markets. 

Below are the strategies you can implement to expand your business globally and boost your revenues while minimizing risk:

1. Utilize PEO Services

Due to cultural and language differences, recruiting and managing employees on the international stage can be overwhelming when you intend to expand your business. Fortunately, professional employer organization (PEO) services can help overcome these challenges by managing newly found foreign talents and providing professional and personal support to your international teams.

As your company expands into foreign territory, consider PEO services to help streamline your human workforce. The service provider will hire and manage staff as well as manage their payroll, allowing ample time for the senior executives to focus on the corporate side of the enterprise. With PEO services, your global team remains optimally engaged and productive for the benefit of the business.

Most PEO providers run a co-employment model, which allows the expanding businesses to meet the employment and compliance regulations without having a physical presence in that particular country. As an organization, this provides an avenue to enter different foreign markets without committing extra resources to build physical offices. Plus, the PEO services allow you to upscale or downscale the workforce depending on the market forces- a fluidity and flexibility setting businesses need as they venture into new markets.

2. Optimize Your Digital Strategy and Find Local Influencers

Today, the digital space presents the world's largest marketplace where local and international corporations have nearly equal chances of success. Thus, every company thinking of expansion must have a working digital marketing strategy. But a strong online presence will be even more crucial if you want to go global. That's where social influencing comes in.

Influencers are individuals, commonly celebrities, who command significant followership on social media. Expanding businesses can leverage the power of influencers to gain shares in new markets by contracting them to campaign for their products directly or indirectly. Since customers trust the opinions of other users when buying products or services, social influencers will be vital in gaining trust and credibility in the foreign market. 

Remember, entering a new market requires an exceptional first impression that immediately captures your prospective customers' attention and converts them into leads. This explains why the local influencer you identify must appeal to your audience and be able to present your product subtly.

3. Look for the Right Local Partners

Navigating the new market alone will be an insurmountable task, as you might not understand the local supply chains, distribution channels, and other customs of the land. 

The experience of a local expansion partner who comprehends the nuances of that particular market will be crucial in overcoming any hurdles and kick-starting your operations smoothly. But then, not all expansion partners will be a good fit for your business. 

Before selecting a collaborator, perform thorough background research, including experience in international business expansion projects and business culture, to determine whether you can partner or not. Any conflicting interest should be a red flag. 

You can get recommendations of potential collaborators from professional networks, business associates, or government organs like trade commissions and foreign embassies. Moreover, you can access an additional pool of potential partners by attending trade shows and expos in the target country. 

For example, if you are looking to expand your business services and consulting form into Costa Rica because you have team members and or current customers with a Costa Rican background, you might start by contacting the Costa Rica Chamber of Commerce and seeing how they can help you navigate and identify some trustworthy alliances.

4. Leverage Government Platforms And Resources

As a way of encouraging the exportation of locally produced goods and talents, most governments organize trade fairs that attract multinational companies and industry experts to sensitize entrepreneurs on global expansion. 

Such forums will boost your understanding of exporting fundamentals, foreign supply chains, and distributor systems. Besides acquiring knowledge, these platforms allow you to meet other ambitious entrepreneurs who have ventured abroad and gain deeper insights into foreign markets.

Follow the Foreign Ministers on Twitter or your favorite social platform so you can see the types of relationships they are forging as in this example the Belize Foreign Minister and the Ambassador to the Netherlands:

For example, if you currently do business in either Belize or The Netherlands, do your research, contact the governing bodies and see where you might find an opportunity based on these trade agreements.  Here is an example of the actual trade agreement between Belize and the Netherlands from 2004:

What Is the Best Country to Expand Your Business?

Topping the 2020 Global Expansion Tech Index list, Singapore is the first-choice destination for businesses spreading their wings abroad. 

Factors considered in the indexing include:

  • Regulatory landscape complexity
  • Infrastructure availability
  • GDP growth, and talent pool
  • Political stability
  • Low corporate taxes

Singapore is a member of the Regional Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP) and is strategically located within a wide base of Asian markets like Malaysia and Indonesia, further contributing to Singapore's suitability for expansion.

With corporate headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Maybank is the largest bank in Malaysia:

For ideas on how you might like to lay out some of your research options when looking at potential international markets to expand to, below is a sample framework to inspire some ideas.

Please keep in mind that all of this information changes rapidly, so in no way should you use this information to guide your decisions. This is for education purposes only and you are responsible for your own research and your decisions. For example, you may not be interested in selling through an online sales channel, in that case, build your own columns with potential sales channels that make sense for you, i.e, local grocery or specialty retail stores, etc.

In this example, we reviewed Singapore, Malaysia, Ireland, Portugal, Mexico, Georgia and Panama to see if we might find some message-market fit.

CountryOpportunity/ Market PotentialBuyers (Online)Potential BuyersEase of businessSales channelBankingCurrency and tax
SingaporeThe government along with its people have made the country a suitable place for business opportunities and businesses have grown and flourished due to the economy’s hospitality.Around 4.3 million buyers in only e-commerce market.It depends upon the nature of your business. But most demanded goods are food and other agriculture products.Yes. Singapore received 2nd position in the World Bank's '2020 Ease of Doing Business Report.Amazon, eBaySingapore is the ground of global banking giants, including DBS, OCBC, and UOB. These 3 are also known as the World's safest banks.Singapore dollar is the official currency of Singapore. Tax on corporate income is imposed at a flat rate of 17%.
MalaysiaOver the last ten years, Malaysia has become a destination of choice for business expansion. Malaysia is a growing market for high-end products.Around 16.29 million are online active shoppers in Malaysia.Most of the buyers are interested in electronics, fashion and beauty products, and home appliancesYes. Malaysia ranked 12th place in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business report in 2020.eBay, Lazada, ShopeeBanks are pretty reliable and safe in Malaysia. Maybank is Malaysia's largest and one of the largest banks in Southeast Asia.The Malaysian Ringgit is the currency unit of the Malaysian currency. The standard corporate income tax rate in Malaysia is 24%.
IrelandThe World Bank's 'Doing Business' report rates Ireland as the easiest EU location to start a business. The same report rates Ireland's tax regime as the most business-friendly in Europe or the Americas.79% of the internet users shopped online in 2021.Fizzy drinks and crisps remain Ireland's top selling consumer brands. So, if you are in this business, whole population is your potential buyer.Yes. The World Bank has ranked Ireland 24th of out 190 jurisdictions in their latest annual rankings for ease of doing business.Amazon, eBay,Allied Irish Bank is the largest of the retail and commercial banks in Ireland.Euro is the official currency of Ireland. The standard corporate tax rate in Ireland is 12.5%.
PortugalPortugal made the top countries to start a business for its low cost of living ($681.34) and good employment rate (69.98 percent).There are 5.1 million users of e-commerce.Sports equipment and apparel are the most demanded products in Portugal with a lot of potential buyers. The segment of buyers is growing by 22% every year.Yes. The World Bank ranks Portugal 39 out of 190 countries in its ease of doing business index 2020eBay, ContinentePortuguese banks are safe and easy to use. Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) is the largest bank of Portugal.The currency of Portugal is the Euro. Businesses pay corporate tax in Portugal at a flat rate of 21% of any taxable profits.
MexicoMexico has a favorable business climate, making doing business in Mexico highly desirable. The country has strong agricultural roots and has tried very hard over the past few years to attract business, especially in manufacturing.There were 50.7 million Mexican eCommerce users in 2020, a 9 percent increase over 2019.Most of the buyers in Mexico are involved in buying electronics such as phones, tablets and mobile accessories.Average. Mexico ranks 60 out of 190 economies for overall ease of doing business.Walmart, eBay, AmazonThe banks in Mexico are very safe, but there is nothing like FDIC insurance in the US where government backs up your account.The Mexican peso is the currency of Mexico. The corporate income tax rate is 30%.
GeorgiaGeorgia's reputation as a business-friendly country is growing after becoming the 6th best country in the world in terms of economic development and easy of doing business.In 2020, more than 630,000 residents of Georgia used e-commerce.Georgia has terrific demand for musical instruments so if your business is involved in production of these type of products then you should consider Georgia.Yes. Georgia ranks 6th in the 2019 World Bank's Ease of Doing Business index.Walmart, Mymarket, Amazon, AlibabaBanking sector is good in Georgia with a lot of international banks. Liberty bank is the biggest bank in Georgia.The currency in Georgia is the Georgian Lari. Georgia has a 5.75 % corporate income tax rate
PanamaAs one of the world's freest and most vibrant economies, Panama is a country that's rich with opportunities for both local and international businesses. Fueled by foreign direct investment and its import and export market, Panama is a top choice for businesses who wish to business expansion in Latin America.Around 2 million people in Panama had made an online purchase in 2020.Panamanian consumers are demanding more convenience and healthy food products, and this sector is growing day by day. So, if you are in food business, Panama will be great option for you because of its high number of potential buyers.No. Panama ranks 86th out of 190 countries in Ease of Doing Business.Amazon, eBay,encuentra24Panama has a well-developed banking system and it is an important international banking hub for years. Banco Central is the leading bank in PanamaThe Panamanian balboa is the national currency of Panama, which circulates alongside the U.S. dollar. Corporations are subject to income tax at a fixed rate of 25%


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