Q: How do you reach out globally to evaluate the potential of a country you want to target for expansion before investing heavily?
A: Find a global conference or think tank that features speakers and business experts knowledgeable about your chosen international market.
When “global” is the big issue, conference organizers will include embassy, trade, banking, and other dignitaries. This means a two- or three-day conference can place you in face-to-face contact with highly-knowledgeable, well-connected experts who are knowledgeable about the market you value for expansion.
This combined “been there, done that” expertise can save you from expensive dead-end inquires and false-starts. I known entrepreneurs who used this type of contact-rich investigation opportunity and discovered their business was not the exact match that they expected. I’ve known even more entrepreneurs who found that attending a global summit opened was like an advance screening and opened doors for them that they never knew existed. Contacts made during the conference may lead to introductions for the first country visit that amplify progress.
Intellectually-stimulating global conferences and forums allow engagement with business people who know from experience. For instance, discussions concerning the relevance of North American best practices can save a lot of time and help avoid offending cultural norms when visiting the target country. This is networking at its best—if you are prepared!
Merely showing up with a fist full of business cards or a snazzy web presence is not enough.
Preparation for global expansion involves investigating the target country, so you can articulate why this country is your best expansion choice. This preparation will enable intelligent exchanges with those who know what you do not and will help you learn how to make the right expansion match:
- Details of population, culture, traditions, and geography are as important as legal and financial frameworks and economic policies.
- Where politics are dramatically different, issues regarding civil rights, rule of law, and foreign (that’s you) requirements will define your project. This is where professional expertise will be essential.
- Don’t expect others to do the thinking for you. Know what you need to know from your business’ perspective. Understand which types of professionals to search out when at the conference. Aim to discover where your thinking and knowledge may be off and how to avoid mistakes obvious to decision makers in your target country.
The more prepared you are to make your point, that is, communicate the advantages of doing business with you and your company, the luckier you’ll be.
“Chance favors the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur