In our work, we talk to many companies about international business expansion. It includes the preparation work that needs doing, the market research as well as the review of the organisation’s own capabilities to succeed in a new market. However, one thing that companies always underestimate is the cost involved. Many are also unaware of the help available in the form of government grants.
Consultancy services for international business expansion
We discussed funding and expansion to international markets with several organisations at the most recent GTM Global: Go to Market Globally event. As part of the Global Partner Network, we frequently attend these events to host our CMO roundtable for the selected participants following a pre-event assessment.
Firms come to these sessions to discuss their business, their current position and their goals. It’s clear that there has often been a lot of consideration as to the mechanics around international business expansion but also an underestimation of the preparation work and costs involved.
Funding the prep work as well as the business expansion
Market expansion has two significant challenges that go with it. The first is doing your due diligence to give it the best chance of working. There are plenty of big companies who have misunderstood the market they’re going into and have stumbled over expensive expansion plans into failure. The second is funding - having appropriate financial resources first to do your research, position yourself correctly, and execute projects effectively.
Organisations that have achieved market expansion most successfully in our experience have gone through a forensic analysis of their target audience (including segmentation - which may be different to the domestic market). They also analyse the market size for their product or service, competitors (including SWOT analysis) and brand relevance in the new market (including trademark availability).
In themselves, these things cost money, both in terms of time and resource. However, not doing them properly is the equivalent of building a house without foundations. There will always be someone who makes it work, but the whole thing will fall down over time in most cases.
Marketing leaders discuss raising capital
Earlier this year, our marketing leaders discussed the challenges of raising capital and its link to your goals. Funding is a topic that CEO Whisperer and Roundtable leader, Michael O’Hara, is highly knowledgeable about.
Finance is a significant area of industry in its own right. If we continue with the house analogy, very few people ever have all the cash in the bank to make a purchase outright. Banks are in the business of lending (though they often do an excellent job of pretending otherwise); investors are another avenue you can go down. Still, one thing that’s often overlooked, especially amongst small businesses and medium businesses, is access to government grants.
One such example is the UK’s Internationalisation Fund. The Department for International Trade offers match-funded government grants of between £1,000 and £9,000. They're for eligible businesses in England seeking international expansion or perhaps looking to re-enter the European market where Brexit had forced them out.
The fund is mainly targeting businesses in the following areas:
- Market research
- IP advice
- Translation services
- International social media/SEO
- Trade fairs (where no TAP funding is available)
- Independent market visits
- Consultancy and other international commercial services
There are, of course, criteria to meet, but it’s a motivating and substantial offering that can help businesses position themselves for success by sharing the cost and associated financial risk. If any company is serious about international business expansion, they must be willing to invest. This is a good way of contributing towards those costs and making a success of your plans with the right business support.
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