As a business owner you’re always looking for ways to expand, grow your business and finding better ways to get things done.
If you have been dreaming of expanding your business overseas then there are several factors you need to consider before putting your plan into action. You will need time for your team to learn about the new location as well as the culture of the people that you will be engaging with. If you ignore these differences or take it for granted that you’re team will be able to some how automatically adjust to the conditions of the new market, then your plan for expansion is likely to be doomed to failure.
Sometimes, however the opportunity to expand comes up suddenly and so there may be no time to prepare your existing team for the challenges that the new market may present. In these times a business coach will recommend thinking outside the box to solve the problems.
David Guest, a Business Coach in Melbourne, has put together his top 10 tips for helping you to expand your business by extending your team by outsourcing to talented people who are on the ground in your new market.
1. Clearly State Your Objective
There is a need for you to clearly define your company’s objectives so that it’s easy for others to understand what your business is attempting to achieve. Beyond that you will need to have clear, well-defined objectives and goals for the people you will recruit and utilize for local knowledge until your entire business and team is able to get up to speed. The more precise you are about the tasks and outcomes you want these people to achieve the greater their contribution to the expansion success.
2. Understand your Own Cultural Values
The standards of behaviour and the way in which your team members communicate amongst them selves form part of your business culture. One reason why businesses can fail when expanding into new markets is because the culture of your business may be out of step with the expectations and behavioural standards of the community you’re entering. This can also be a problem when outsourcing to bring on-board local people to make your expansion easier. It will take some time for you and your team to adjust to communication with your outsourced team, this is the time for you to be most flexible and learn everything you can about what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of behaviour and wording. Treat your outsourced team as if they are trainers, they are going to be the ones who teach you and your team how to best sell, communicate and support the people in your new market.
3. Understand your Target Culture.
Reading books, online research and contacting government agencies who assist businesses with expansion into new areas are all great places to discover more about the culture of your target market. By outsourcing some of your new business set-up responsibilities to the right local people you can get an insight into this new and different culture immediately. This type of outsourcing also ensures that you have local assistance with any local governance issues you may be unfamiliar with and will give your business the right foundation in terms of fitting into this new community.
4. Decide Whether to Accept or Decline What You Might Not Appreciate.
As with any clashing of cultures, you can choose the level to which you want your business to integrate into this new environment. For example, McDonalds the fast food chain, adjusts it’s menu selections for the local market, but holds true to it’s systems, employment arrangements, customer service levels and the appearance of it’s “restaurants”. It is up to you to decide whether you will embrace another culture fully or not. Working with an outsourced local contractor is a good way for you to discover how much of your own business culture will translate well.
5. Learn Various Strategies and Common Business Practices.
There is a need for you to learn and prepare your team for the different business practices of the new market you’re entering. The governance structures that your business has thrived in may not exist within your new market or they may be enforced or governed by different types of agencies and have quirks that aren’t easily apparent from an outsiders perspective. Having a local contractor or someone with local knowledge who can guide you through the paperwork and legal requirements is vital. Whether you recruit directly or find an agency who is able to find you this sort of person, it’s important that you consider getting some form of outsourced local advocate who is paid to protect you from mistakes of ignorance.
6. Be Familiar with Local Customs and Traditions.
Public holidays, working hours and vacation seasons are largely dictated by the local customs and traditions of a place. If you intend employing local people to run your business at some point in the future, then you need to know up front what the locals will expect from you as an employer. For example, In Australia we celebrate Melbourne Cup, a public holiday when the majority of people in Melbourne do not work. Depending on employment arrangements, businesses around Australia celebrate this day differently – some give workers the full day off, some give staff a half-day off and others keep it as a full working day. It may be difficult to know what the proper behaviour is in a foreign country until you are there. When you outsource or recruit in contractors the local agency you use can give you a clear idea of these sorts of things.
7. Define Your Strategy
With all this cross-cultural exchange, your business intentions can get lost in translation. That’s why it’s important to have a clear, unambiguous strategy for your business moving forward. With a great strategy the details and exact steps or tasks needed to fulfill it can be flexible. When your strategy is clear it’s easy to communicate to others and for them to take the right initiative to make it happen for you. If you work with a business coach, then they will be able to help you map out a strategy that can be meaningfully shared with people outside your business like local contractors or an outsourced team. This is important because you’ve already had success with your team; they get your strategy. The problem us business coaches often see is that, without realizing it many business owners have allowed their teams to “mind read” what the strategy is – they’ve never really formally documented or communicated it to others. So having a business coach work with you on your strategy can be invaluable.
8. Prepare your Team
Your team should always be ready and prepared at all times. However, they can only do this if you’re letting them know what’s coming down the line. You may need to give your team time to adjust to the idea that the business is set to grow – change can be threatening for some, so by giving your team as much information ahead of time will allow them to adjust to the idea as well as contribute their creative ideas on how things could be changed to work better. With your team’s cooperation business expansion can run more smoothly, as team members step up and want to take on roles that assist with managing, support and training of outsourced resources.
Timing is everything. No matter how carefully you’ve planned your business growth there are always going to be challenges that pop up. Your ability to quickly decide and respond to the challenges is what makes you the dynamic inspirational business owner and entrepreneur that you are. Outsourcing is the modern way to cover the downside in business. It gives you the flexibility of being able to take your top people away from their responsibilities for a short while and have others fill in down the line. You can think about it like dominos – you temporarily reassign your top people, which requires the next level of your team to step up, then the ones below them to step up and so on all the way down to your juniors. Then you bring in some outsourcing talent to do the work of your juniors. The advantage of this is that you are increasing the skills of your people, making them more flexible and talented workers. When you are outsourcing, there are two factors to consider: when to get these people to start and how much time is required for training and supervising them, as well as how long you’ll need them. This is where your team’s experience and knowledge of their own roles is vital, they will need to be responsible for new tasks of their own and the management of others so you must not rush things. Take your time so that everything can go as planned.
Engage, take action, get going! The saying goes “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. If you and your business are ready for business expansion then seriously investigate your options. It’s not something that you can do alone and there are many, many people who have the skills, knowledge and experience to help you. Like your team, your Business Coach, your Accountant, your Lawyer, your Bank Manager and the hundreds of people within government agencies whose job it is to help you succeed, grow your business, add to the economy and employ people.