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Breaking International Borders: How to Expand Your Business Overseas

Breaking International Borders: How to Expand Your Business Overseas

A recent survey showed that 72% of small businesses plan to grow their international customer base by 2017, and it’s not hard to see why.

Advances in technology have opened up a lot of new opportunities for companies to progress in communication, networking, transactions, and delivery of products across borders, with e-commerce paving the way in today’s modern economy.

There are several key approaches that businesses can undergo to set themselves up for a successful and flourishing expansion overseas. Here are the four pillars to establish and sustain international growth:

Use Social

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools a business has, and an absolute necessity when trying to increase brand visibility in new markets. Setting up social accounts to target new niches and countries is a fantastic way to reach out to the desired target audience, and open up opportunities to network with relevant connections within the same industry.

If the country you’re reaching out to speaks a different language, make the effort to translate your message. This way, you can effectively engage with your new audience with market-specific content without alienating them. Take some recent feedback from Facebook users for example: 9 out of 10 European users say they predominantly prefer to browse in their own language. So, whether your social media team translates internally or you hire someone who’s fluent in that language, it pays to speak the native tongue to your new demographic.

Make Yourself Local

One of the biggest challenges a business faces when expanding into new territories is making themselves accessible to their consumers. Bear in mind, there will already be competitors who have established themselves in the market – this means making yourself seem as local as possible is key.

A great place to start is to translate and localize your website, this includes copy, changing domains, contact details, and the content itself. Localization for mobile users is equally as important. A recent study revealed that 61% of smartphone users want ads customized to their immediate surroundings, so it’s imperative your site has local advertising, adding to the relevance of the chosen area. Additionally, it’s worth investing in toll-free numbers, so customers save on costly international calls and can contact a local number they trust. Learn more about toll-free numbers here.

Hire People Who Know Your Market

One of the obvious benefits of hiring native speakers is that they can communicate to your target audience, but another huge plus is that they can offer invaluable insight into what works in their market, and what doesn’t. Not only will they be more clued up on the country’s culture, but they will know your customer a lot better than you do – make sure to take advantage of this knowledge.

Not only will their expertise help you to connect with customers, but if you work in a B2B environment, they can help you to forge business relationships easier and open up the doors to networking opportunities. Clients and customers will also appreciate working with people who have an understanding of the country they reside in.

Be Patient

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of international expansion, but it’s equally important to take care of business as home to ensure everything can go as smoothly as possible. Set budgets and stick to them – no matter what. It’s also a wise choice to have contingency funds set aside for emergencies or unforeseen circumstances.

Profitable growth into foreign territory can’t happen overnight, be prepared to invest in your new business venture and be patient for results. If you’ve done your research, hired the right people, and invested your time and money wisely, then you’ve already set yourself up for the best possible chance for success.

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by Lauren Barker // Lauren Barker is a content specialist for, an international telecommunications provider based in Los Angeles, California.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.