By Lee Biggins, Founder and Managing Director of CV-Library
The prospect of expanding your business outside of the UK is an exciting one. You've already seen success on home turf and you want to see that replicated across the globe, but where do you start?
Change Management Plan
The early planning stages are a crucial part of global expansion and will determine the future success of the business, so it's vital you allow yourself time (and patience) to ensure you've left no stone unturned. Here are a few important things to consider within your change management plan:
The world is a big place, so you need to explore the best locations for your business and then decide the optimum place for the second office.
Does your existing brand name still work in the country you’re expanding to? It sounds trivial, but a brand name can make or break a business. You need to consider whether your chosen name has the same impact elsewhere. Does it mean the same? Can people pronounce it?
Each country has its own way of doing business, so get to know what does and doesn't work in the region you're moving to. Language barriers can be an obvious problem, but there are also other areas to consider; what are the normal working hours and do these work for your existing model? Are there any religious differences that might impact the business? Knowing the answers to these questions early on mean you can make an informed decision and plan accordingly.
Be clear on exactly where you need to invest money and how you are funding the investment. Setting an accurate budget at the start will ensure you’re savvy with your spending and don’t take a 'finger in the wind' approach.
Get all your foundations in place before you lay any bricks. This applies to both tools and people. Do you have the right people lined up to make your new branch a success? And do they have all the tools and technology needed to effectively do their jobs?
It’s also a good time to ensure the UK business is ready for change. If you’re retaining core departments in the UK, it’s worth considering head counts and working hours. For example, if you want to run all global marketing from the UK, but your second office is in Australia, do you need extra marketing staff in the UK to work a different time zone? Or will your existing team be enough to handle overseas requests? Considering any potential obstacles now, will avoid unnecessary frustrations in the future.
You’re probably used to a very hands-on approach. How will you manage teams and individuals that are based in different countries? Do you have strong managers in place? If you want to spend time in the new office, you could consider employing a new MD to help manage the UK business. Your management team are an invaluable part of the puzzle.
As an established business, you'll already have a trusted set of technology services and systems in place. But will these work for the new office? For example, will your current payment system handle different currencies effectively, or do you need to broaden your search. You should also consider the location of web servers. Whilst you may be reluctant to invest in hosting your website locally, relying on your existing servers could create time lags, which is an instant turn off for customers.
It's not what you know, it's who you know. Take time to think about what contacts you have in the region you are expanding to. And if you don't have the contacts, you may need to consider hiring someone who has.
If you're a service based business, you may consider offering some free trials. But you need to be clear on when to start charging and how you can convert those free trials into paying customers.
Bread and butter
Most importantly, don't forget about your existing business. It can be easy to do when you have exciting opportunities overseas, so have clear UK plans in place before you launch elsewhere. And consider how any changes will impact existing staff. The last thing you want is for your loyal team members to start jumping ship because they feel neglected.
Patience is a Virtue
There's a lot to think about during the planning stages and it can seem a little overwhelming at the start. The key is to take your time and carefully consider each point within your change management plan. Then you’re ready for the exciting part – your first global launch!
Take it one step at a time and gradually build your portfolio, applying your change management plan to every new venture. By taking a conservative approach, you are much more likely to build a sustainable, international business that stands the test of time.