5 basic questions you should ask yourself before starting your international expansion

Good preparation increases the chances of successful international expansion

As with any business venture, you should also carefully prepare the international expansion of your company. Too many companies, especially at the beginning of their internationalization, place too little emphasis on careful preparation of the internationalization strategy: the translation of the website as well as some product sheets are only small building blocks of an internationalization project. But this is by no means the end of the story.

To make your preparation easier, we have prepared 5 questions that every entrepreneur, country manager, country launcher or project manager should ask himself before starting the internationalization project.

Careful preparation will save you a lot of time, many mistakes and probably a lot of money during the course of your project.

Take the time to answer the following questions in writing, step by step. To make it easier for you, you can download and fill out a free worksheet with some extra questions and tips here. Have two or three colleagues or acquaintances proofread your answers to make sure that you have not missed anything and to obtain one or two further opinions. You will find valuable answers for yourself as well as for your employees, investors or other partners and improve your communication with the most important stakeholders in your internationalization project.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to your message.

Question 1: What are my reasons for internationalization?

This is the first question you should ask yourself. Do you perhaps already have your first customers who demand your products or services abroad and you would like to satisfy this demand? Have you suggested international development to your investors as a growth project in your business plan? Do you have personal ambitions to live abroad and would you like to establish your business in this country? Do you see yourself more as the founder of a company? Do you, therefore, prefer to build up your business in new countries rather than leading the well-developed markets as a general manager? There are certainly many good reasons for international expansion, which one is yours?

Question 2: Is my home business stable enough?

An internationalization project should only be tackled if your business in your home market is stable enough. Developing your business in another country means that, in most cases, both the founder of the company and some of his best employees are assigned to the project. It is, so to speak, a matter of setting up a new company. Assume that you will start up again in the new country, even if you already have a solid business in your home country.

Question 3: Can my current business continue successfully for 6 months without my best salespeople?

Besides the successful implementation of the Market Entry Strategy (localization, first steps in operational marketing as well as the question of good recruiting), internationalization is of course mainly about generating first sales! Addressing and convincing new customers is the work of your best sales staff. They should help to try out and adapt the successful sales strategies of your home market in the new markets. If your core business in your home country cannot be continued without your best sales staff for about two quarters without any problems, you must ask yourself the question of whether you should start your internationalization project later.

Question 4: Do I have the financial resources to expand my business internationally?

Let’s face it, internationalization is a big investment: both for your team and financially. In addition to the salaries of the project team, there are many additional costs involved: localization, marketing campaigns, trade show appearances, office space, travel, business development and much more. Don’t economize on internationalization but be proactive.

Question 5: What are my personal ambitions to become internationally active?

You should urgently ask yourself what your personal ambitions are and whether your current situation in life allows you to go international. As a managing director or project manager, you can assume that you will have to accept increased travel (assume weekly trips). In addition, depending on the team structure, you will be faced with a double workload, especially at the beginning. You will have to take care of your home business and at the same time develop new markets.

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

Andrea Vaugan