27/05/2014

By Ithamar Sorek; VP Business Development, Glow Digital Media Limited

Business Development and global expansion in new markets is an interesting subject and a hot topic for ninety percent of flourishing SMEs in today’s digital world.

But why would a company want to risk its comfortable surroundings and familiar territory in order to expand? The answer lies within the question, to expand.

This could be prompted by a variety of reasons, for example, the requirement to meet demand both locally and internationally or perhaps innovation is the driving force behind this objective.

Your rate of growth in a mature market as a business may tail off and you may find that emerging markets will start to experience the rapid acceleration that you had originally experienced at home. Your company may wish to benefit from attractive market conditions and perhaps leverage its strengths in new territories.

What gave our organisation the motivation for expansion was the desire to bring innovative digital solutions to new territories, whilst being able to offer our expertise and knowledge in mobile to a wider market. But the ultimate goal was to become the global tech provider for accessing inventory across all social platforms and meeting this objective required a global touch point.

After growing exponentially in EMEA, we then focused on APAC Gaming Vertical and its estimated 433million apps. This then became a natural step for expansion and looking back five years ago we had no idea that technology would make this possible.

So what is the secret to global expansion and its success? We believe that a company wishing to expand must make a firm commitment to grow and think globally from the onset. The good news is that in today’s society, thinking globally is part of daily life and access to ground-breaking technology helps break down barriers to entry.

We also know that technology trends generally start in the US, followed swiftly by the EU, GCC, APAC (excluding Australia and New Zealand) and then on to LATAM.

But one of the most important pillars of success is planning. When planning for international expansion the first step is to assess market readiness and gain a clear understanding of the local infrastructure. What does the competitive landscape look like and consider starting with an in depth analysis of your target country.

Competitors in the market may have established themselves in these regions ahead of your company and steal this early advantage. You can however also use early market entry as a defensive measure against your competition.

There are many communities around the globe that utilise different networks for engagement. Find out what these are as having exposure to local networks and being able to provide solutions globally, will ultimately determine whether or not your company will succeed.

After thoroughly researching your target market, if the numbers add up then the next step is to talk to local businesses in order to really gain an understanding of how things work.

We are often asked for advice on global expansion and our response is to take your time and research your market. Follow a well-defined structure of “what and how” but at the same time have the flexibility to move quickly or completely withdraw from a market if required. Meet and talk to people locally and take a look at the entire eco system, from hardware and software infrastructure, to audience and users, competitors and the political and social environment.

Businesses must evaluate its risks; assess a country’s political instability and financial barriers from credit checks, payment terms and currency fluctuations to taxes. Risk factors are a common problem and tend to be more about the level of severity in a particular country than directly associated to a business wishing to expand. A business can however overcome these risks by establishing clear KPIs for success in a particular market and it is important to manage these KPIs rigorously. Be mindful that every risk you have can affect you both at your headquarters as well as internationally.

As a business one must have the support both internally and externally and be able to adapt to last minute changes where possible. Be open to change in order to overcome boundaries such as local customs, languages and cultural differences and be ready for anything in order to accept these differences with an open mind.

The most important factor when considering global expansion, no matter what you do, in the end it is people working with people that makes a business successful. Bringing your knowledge to an emerging market is exciting and the importance of cross culture and being able to work together despite all differences, whatever they maybe, is an amazing feeling when a business succeeds.

The International Festival for Business - IFB 2014 - is the most exciting international business initiative of 2014 and International Trade Expo will be at its heart.

A two day expo with exhibitors, seminars, workshops and networking events designed to plug your business into the engine of international trade. Expert speakers, country profiles, advice clinics and innovative solutions for the challenges of doing business in the global market place. International Trade Expo is the event for everyone concerned with international trade.

International Trade Expo 10-11th June, Echo Arena, Liverpool

For more information visit www.internationaltradeexpo.co.uk