Considering expanding your business overseas? Well, if things are going so well that you’re even in a position to seriously consider international expansion, the chances are you already possess the qualities you need to handle a global move. However, if you’re going to overcome the challenges businesses fail when going global, you’ll need to harness a few personality traits in particular:
An adventurous spirit
First and foremost, going global requires having an adventurous spirit. You’ll need to be willing to push your knowledge, understanding and ambition to limit in order to successfully enter a foreign market, which means having the kind of attitude that’s never just satisfied with just sticking with what you know. For example, if you want to establish an American subsidiary of your business, you’re going to need to be the kind of person who wants to step into the great unknown and take on a behemoth of a market – regardless of the number of businesses that have failed before you.
An ability to take calculated risks
However, you’ll need to pair your adventurous spirit with an ability to take calculated risks. Those who rush into international expansion without fully considering the implication of what that entails for the way your business is currently operating (and may have to operate in the future) is foolhardy. But, if you’re inclined to weigh up your options, consider multiple avenues and balance risks against likely rewards, you’ll have a much better chance of success when expanding overseas.
A flexible nature
Flexibility is another key personality trait you’ll need if you’re going global. Those who refuse to adapt are the ones who fold, and international growth requires an ability to constantly change tactic – without taking it as a personal slight – if your approach appears not to be working. If you’re prepared to learn from their experiences in real time and listen to the opinions of others who are qualified, you stand a good chance of reaching a new market of customers who will take you seriously. This is closely tied to having a curious nature, and a higher degree of openness to other opinions, practices and customs.
It almost goes without saying (but it’s worth highlighting) that no-one could hope to expand their business outside of their home country without being highly motivated. Whatever it is that motivates you, you’ll need to be able to channel your purpose and passion to negotiate the numerous hurdles you’re likely to encounter. From understanding import laws and regulations, how to navigate the legal and taxation system and immersing yourself in a new culture as well as taking on another swathe of competitors, you’ll need motivation (and discipline) to keep carrying your move forward.
Being a foreign business in a market isn’t an easy position to hold, and you’re likely to be treated with some kind of suspicion or given a wide-berth from customers, suppliers and investors for a while until you’re well-established. As a result, you need a thick skin and a strong well of resilience to draw on: you’re going to need to advocate for your business, (potentially) fight for funding and keep championing your business, even if there doesn’t seem to be much take-up at first.
If you think you possess these characteristics and want to make the most of the opportunity that international expansion presents, you’re in a stronger position than some. But, do your research first and ensure your business is truly ready for overseas growth, regardless of whether you think you have the personality to pull it off.
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