Whatever is your business, in today's world, you compete in the global market because the global market competes for your customers. It is never asleep so it competes with you, right now. To go global or not, is not your choice anymore.
The Online Market
The online market place is geography indifferent if the product meets the customers' need, whim and desire, the button is pushed and it arrives in his/her house 2 or 3 days later. If he/she doesn't like it, the delivery company comes and picks it up and takes it away.
This is the environment we all compete in and with Amazon now hinting developing its own delivery company, whatever advantage you have as a local supplier is about to disappear.
Warm smiles and customer service will always have a place but it will diminish until only the spectral image of Jeff Bezos grins down and we must find as small businesses new ways to be part of the global market place. If delivery any place in the world can happen in 3 or 4 days what advantage do you have in being local?
If your customer in Shanghai or New Delhi or Split can't see your product, assess it and knows she can have it within very few days, then, you are watching yourself gradually sink from the market. Having said this, the world is desperately organizing to help you.
The global market is the greatest ever opportunity for your business. Companies such as Shopify or Alibaba, all be it with some work on your part, are desperate to put you in Mrs. Lee's or Mr. Tamayami or Mr. Shri Mukherjee's eyes instantly. But you have to take the initiative and you have to realize that the only market for most of us is the global one.
If you want to sell newspapers from a kiosk on the main city street, there's a traditional shop waiting for you.
Pubs are local as the hairdressers so you do up a list of the activities that an international firm can't do better, provide more quickly or assure the quality of more reliably and go and hide in one. Other than that from belt buckles to bouquets to bobby pins to custom clothes, there is no hiding anymore.
How Do You Expand into this Market?
So, how do you expand into this market? Thousands of small businesses have already done this so there are no mysteries. So, here are some ways:
1. Get help. Free if possible. Your city, your county or your state will have a small business development office and there's a team there who existence depends on helping you. If they don't have numbers at the end of each year, they go back to stamping license plates. You can call but if you drive down to their office, the odds are someone will see you and you can get started.
2. Look for companies whose only mission is to help you put your shop online and, hence, global. Go into Google and find what businesses in your field have already strong online presence. Look at what they're doing. Check if they have offices in other countries, company reps there or just put their products online. If their customers are other businesses, where do they market online? How do they do their marketing? Ask people who work there or call up their marketing guys.
3. If your company sells products, put your product name into Google and see what comes up. You get a picture of your competition and also of your possible market. You can be a supplier to these companies in countries where they're based. You can easily contact them as their contact details are often in their site or in their ad.
4. If you have a target country, you can even now put ads on the sites of the local papers in those countries. Their prices for these ads are often published and their advertising offices are always willing to help.
5. Ask your logistics people to define the steps you need to make your product or your service available. What are the possible hurdles? Can all these be outsourced to professionals?
6. When you searched for a comparable product or service in the internet, did you look at prices. Is your price comparable to that of other companies in the market? Make sure to factor your shipping, customs, and other fees.
7. Take another look online and find out where your product or service has a fit. Like, don't sell winter hats in Bermuda.
8. From your research, develop a one page strategy outlining the steps to take. Why one page? So, you don't spend time reading it. Why the clear steps? So, you can test out each step and take only the ones that are most effective.
Five years ago, this process is much more difficult. Now, frankly with the help available, the biggest problem is your own inertia. Or, your fear of failure.
You can do it. Thousands of others, tiny and small businesses, have gone global and see themselves now as part of the global market place. It is really exciting.
Did you find this useful? Share your own experience of how you expanded globally.