Going Global: How to go for Overseas Growth

Feb 26, 2020

Global expansion is an attractive proposition – and not simply because of the promise of increased revenues. If you’re in the business of health and wellness, the desire to do something that makes a positive difference can be a strong incentive for you to reach as many people as possible.

But are you really ready to take your passion project to the world?

For Chris Norden, managing director of global health food leader Amazonia, the opportunity to expand his business internationally came after someone contacted him interested in the brand. “We believed they’d do the right thing by us and we had the funds to launch globally, so we did,” Norden says. “Now we are in 11 countries.”

Not every business gets a knock on the door like Amazonia did, but if your business has hit its stride locally with strong sales and a steady domestic reputation, then now may be the time to take to the world stage. You just want to be sure you’ve ticked a few boxes before you take the leap.

Which Markets do you Plan to Enter?

Every market is different and each opportunity has its own set of challenges. It’s essential to have a clear business strategy to help you stay on track. To get you started on your business strategy, Austrade has an Export Plan Template on its website that is helpful.

“One of the best first steps is to visit the country you plan to enter,” a spokesperson from Austrade says. “Ideally, prior to visiting, a business should organise meetings with preferred business partners and reach out to the relevant in-market Austrade representative who can assist with an in-market briefing.”

Heath Baker, acting CEO of the Export Council of Australia, says: “The first thing businesses need to do is be confident there is a market for them. Is there demand for your product or service there?”

Going Global: How to go for Overseas Growth (Geometric World Map)

Are you Ready?

“The export journey can be a great way for an Australian business to grow, increase profitability and range, and add diversity,” the Austrade spokesperson says. “Before you begin the journey, though, you should consider two key factors: do you have the capability and capacity to manage the potential growth?”

Global expansion in the early days can take up a lot of resources. Austrade has excellent, detailed checklists on its website about how to begin the process.

“It’s important to do your homework on the export market, but also to make sure you succeed in the Australian market first,” the spokesperson says. “Developing a brand in Australia and understanding customers locally can be an advantage when exporting.”

Norden agrees: “I would make sure your local Australian market is strong enough that if any mistakes are made internationally – and there will be mistakes – it means you’re not putting the whole business at risk.”

Baker adds that it’s also important to think about whether you are happy to commit to a market for three-to-five years. “You need to be prepared for the management time, the practical challenges and the long time it takes to develop relationships with your buyers,” he says. “You need to be prepared to wait a few years before you start to see a decent return from your effort.”

Potential Pitfalls

“Too often Australian businesses head to market and don’t appreciate how many other brands are their competitors,” Austrade says. “By understanding your competitors, you are able to better target your consumers and present your position prominently.”

Once you are established, it’s also important to work with and continually engage with your retailer, importer or distributor to make sure your product receives adequate attention. “Your partners in-market can provide great insight into consumer trends and demands, which you can use to better place your product,” Austrade says.

Norden says you need to be careful to pick the right partner, otherwise “it can be a costly exercise not just in money but in time”. He recommends a partner who is both passionate and well funded.

Enlist Help

“Make sure you take advantage of the help available,” Baker says. “The Federal Government has people who can help through Austrade and AusIndustry, and state and territory governments can help. Plus there’s us – the Export Council of Australia. And make sure you become familiar with the Export Market Development Grants.”

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