Following on from our blog last week about getting your business ready for Brexit – there’s a lot that can be said about gearing yourself up to become a truly global player. The economy is about to deliver a whole new batch of opportunity – Europe is about to become the number 1 market for most British businesses, but the question remains: Just how ready are you to now become a global player?
You may have been in business for a while now – and you’ve successfully grown it to be a pretty strong, revenue-yielding powerhouse. But change brings new opportunity, and with Brexit on the horizon, just how solid is your growth strategy and how does it caters for new emerging markets, while, at the same time, dealing with restrictive trade barriers and duties?
While for many, expanding their business globally means to physically establish a present in a new territory, for many SMEs that simply isn’t a valid option. Without the right funding and business readiness, sometimes taking on a project far bigger than you’re ready for, spells certain shut down. Sometimes, expanding your business globally starts with much smaller, incremental steps that gets your focus out of the day-to-day, short-term strategy, and focussed on a long-term growth plan that may very well see your business occupying its rightful place in Paris, Rome and Munich.
Here are 4 things you can do today to get your business ready for global expansion tomorrow.
1. Cross-border Product differentiation
You’ve built your product, or your service, with a key market in mind. Now is the perfect time to go back to that first idea that you had, and review how that same product would work in an entirely different market, with different cultural demands and consumer behaviours. Today is the perfect time to start exploring the relevance of what you offer, across the border. Whether you extend the sales life of your product or service in its existing form, to new markets, or whether you start to tweak your service to cater for market flexibility, by reviewing what you have today, and asking some very basic questions, your mindset is shifting and you’re starting to think globally.
Key questions to ask:
- Is my product needed by customers in this new market?
- If my product is needed, will much need to be changed to it’s current make-up or offering?
- Are the changes required drastic and will they require a substantial amount of capital?
- Are my teams ready to make the changes necessary to get my business globally ready?
2. Reduce your dependence on any 1 single market
Eggs in one basket or too many cooks, whatever metaphor you choose to use – your dependency on a single market puts you at immediate risk. You are at the mercy of whatever market fluctuations and economic turns that appear. Developing a global mind-set means that you are prepared to accept that different markets will expect different things from you, as a business. And your positioning within each of those markets means that your product or service is strong enough to deliver value where value is needed – regardless of market expectations. Although the thought of Brexit leaves many a small business cold with uncertainty, and although many independent businesses will feel the severe restriction of trade agreements, know that all business will be feeling exactly the same pinch. But remember one thing: a new opportunity now presents itself to businesses who want to understand the inner workings of prospective markets that are ready for their products, in whatever shape or form it decides to take.
Key question to ask:
- Why am I dependent on this particular market?
- What is preventing me from expanding into new markets?
- Are the changes required, ones that I can afford to make?
- Do I know what needs to be done to explore new markets?
3. Balance demand cycles through embracing new markets
By now, you probably have a pretty good sense of the fluctuations of your core market. Whether you are dependent on seasonal buying behaviour, or something far less tangible, you can even out your sales by tapping into markets with different or even countercyclical fluctuations. Developing a global offering means that where business may be slow through a particular market cycle, business may be great in a market where that cycle is decidedly different. And although you may not be ready to start shipping all your products abroad, embracing the fact that things are going to be changing rapidly over the next 12-18 months means that you will be ready, when the change hits, to adapt and overcome and prosper – better than those who simply waited for the fog to clear.
Key questions to ask:
- Am I confident in knowing my market lifecycle?
- Is my business strategy based on a market lifecycle as opposed to customer demand?
- If it is, do I know how to evolve so that I am not at the mercy of cycle downtime?
4. Exploit technology and embrace Digital
Change Management and Digital Transformation are the proverbial hot potatoes of the business world today. And without mashing up yet another blog post that reviews the ramifications of revenue return when the chips are down, preparing for big change, like Brexit, is something that all business leaders need to be seriously thinking about today. And that starts with taking as much advantage of the tools available to you today, to build a business ready for tomorrow. And that starts with all things digital. Not surprisingly, in a recent survey conducted by SAP, almost all small to mid-sized organisations embrace some of the key digital transformation resources like hyper-connectivity (the ability to communicate anywhere and anytime), Unlimited computing power available though diverse platforms, Cloud computing, with easy access to hosted software and services and more, but what was missing was effective deployment and integration that brought all of these individual processes together. What does stand out in the same survey is that those organisations who are growing faster, are further along on the digital transformation journey than those who aren’t growing as quickly.
Key questions to ask:
- Is there any single part of my business that is slowing the rest of the business down?
- Is there any process that falls over due to a lack of automation and clarity?
- How embedded is technology in my business as a whole – from the HR process through to the way I interact with my clients?
- Has the use of technology become such an integrated part of daily business that we don’t recognise it anymore?
Gearing up for growth can be exciting, and challenging at the same time. Whether you need business support, or the capital to get your business ready for whatever change that lies ahead – we speak your language. Chat to us about helping your business get ready for tomorrow.