Going Global: Five tips to consider when expanding your business internationally

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CEO Bill RedfernThis article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Business Voice, the monthly publication by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. View the digital issue in full here.

Once a business owner has estab­lished a strong presence within his or her home country, a common next step is to take the concept internationally to broad­en its reach. However, there are many factors requiring thorough research to take into consideration before emerging into a new country. Here are five tips to consider when expanding your business internationally: 

1. Understand the Culture

It is very unlikely that a business concept will look the same in Halifax as it will in Asia or Europe. While the foundation of a business can remain the same, it's important to adjust to each new culture and the needs of its demographic. 

A smart first step in learning more about a new country's culture is to con­duct thorough market research in that area. Physically making the trip to the country to explore the culture and busi­ness etiquette is a strong way to start. It's also important to connect with industry professionals around the world to gain knowledge about what it's going to take to run a business in their country. 

2. Learn the Language (Or Find Someone Who Knows It)

When exploring new countries for business growth, it's important to take into consideration the native language. Hire translators to ensure each aspect of the business is being successfully communicated. It's also a good idea to have personal interviews with the translators before connecting with foreign investors so they completely understand the business concept before communi­cating it to them. 

Additionally, remember that words may translate differently in other lan­guages. For example, with the home inspections concept, the word "inspec­tor" is negatively received in ex-Commu­nist countries. So, in those countries, the name was adjusted from "home inspec­tors" to "home experts." With instances like these, an open mind and positive attitude will overcome awkwardness and an opportunity to learn from mistakes. 

3. Consider the Customs

Keep in mind that not all cultures function exactly that way, and trying to do so in another country may rub people the wrong way. Some cultures are friend­lier and group-oriented, while others are more formal and self-reliant. Utilize the cultural knowledge of translators to help successfully situate a concept and mes­sage into new cultures. 

Above all, be sure to do your research before taking action. A brand cannot successfully grow internation­ally unless specific customs are carefully considered. Home inspections barely existed outside of North America before A Buyer's Choice Home Inspections expanded, but with overcoming the language barriers and learning different cultures, many countries have embraced the concept. 

4. Find the Right Partner and Hire a Great Team

When expanding to a new country, finding the right partner can make a world of difference. Having someone you trust that is on the ground, understands the local market and is passionate for your brand is key. 

Your partner and the team you hire should be well versed in the culture, language and have great local contacts. They must be fully immersed in the local environment, but you also need to be sure they’ll be looking out for your interests. 

5. Identify Target Markets and Develop a Business Plan

Your research will continue as you identify and evaluate market conditions in each region you wish to grow. Consider that you may have to make adjustments with your sourcing, pricing, anticipated revenues and more. Your original busi­ness plan in Halifax could be significant­ly different in another country. 

Expanding a business internation­ally is no simple task, but it is a perfect opportunity to increase your brand's versatility while reaching new heights financially. 

About A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections

A Buyer's Choice Home Inspec­tions (ABCHI) is a franchise business meeting the huge demand for home inspections. The company is rapidly expanding throughout the United States, Canada and worldwide, on a path to become the world's largest home inspection company. By focus­ing on developing and maintaining local, trust-based relationships with its customers, ABC HI is creating a home inspection business unlike any other. Currently, there are nearly 200 fran­chises internationally across 15 coun­tries. For more information, please visit www.ABuyersChoice.com. 

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