In today’s world of borderless hiring, expanding globally has never been easier. But is your business ready? From managing your contingent workforce to becoming more reliant on technology and software, switching to a global strategy will capitalize on growth in market size.
Any business looking to expand globally should first conduct thorough research to determine if an international strategy is right for your business. In addition, there are certain elements that need to be considered.
What is an International Strategy?
If you are a business that sells or ships a product or provides a service to consumers or business to other countries, then you are considered a global company.
An international strategy would be the first step for most businesses who are looking to expand globally, either with a product or service. Most businesses will continue to have centralized operations or head office in their native country. It requires a detailed plan of how the company will expand overseas.
No two international strategies will be the same and will vary depending on your type of business, your goals and your current business model. Most successful businesses that have implemented a successful global strategy, focus on the centralization of their operations. Mc Donald’s is a classic example.
Types of International Strategy
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to expansion. However, the following models are commonly used by businesses:
The transnational strategy relates to business that have a centralized or head office, usually in their home country. They then use third part or localized subsidiaries for their international markets. Branding, operations, supply chain management and decision making are kept centralized. The over-arching brand remains the same, while some small adjustments can be made to suit local markets.
This applies to businesses that operate in multiple countries but tailor their offerings completely to suit the local market. In this case sales, marketing and product strategies would differ in each country. Instead of the one over-arching brand, they may have several that cater more to the likes and preferences of their local customers.
The global strategy model means that the company follows the same principles for every country and treats the product or service in the same way, making no adjustments for local markets. Technology companies are a classic example of this, where their technology is the same wherever you go.
Netflix is a great example of a multi-domestic strategy. If you use an IPsec VPN and connect to a different country, you’ll gain access to hundreds of videos you otherwise couldn’t. An IPsec VPN works by encrypting your traffic, which hides and/or changes your local IP address.
Although this strategy may work for Netflix now, it may change in the future. Any company rarely keeps the same international strategy for long, even when they’re “too big to fail.”
Regardless of what model you choose for your business, there are some things to consider as part of your international strategy.
An international strategy is where a business operates from its head office and manages its operations from the one centralized office and is basically an extension of the domestic strategy. The head office is usually in their home market. Instead of using third party subsidiaries or having local branches in multiple countries, the structure of the business relies on a more centralized approach.
Rather than use subsidiaries or local branches, an international business keeps a head office in one location, usually their home market. This organizational structure means that there is one center of operations and brand and little to no infrastructure investment in other countries.
Advantages of an international strategy:
- Enhanced branding, with a standard brand that can be recognized globally
- Improved processes and a consolidation of management
- Reduced costs due to a centralized approach and more efficient operations
- Simplification of product offerings
Disadvantages of an international strategy:
- Variations in taxation rates, and higher taxes and tariffs when importing and exporting
- Challenges with operations and supply chain management co-ordination
- Variation in time zones, multiple languages when providing customer service
- Driving demand and awareness
- Local subtleties and culture challenges
How an International Strategy Fits in Our Changing World
The US, Canada, and the majority of European countries aren’t the big kids on the block anymore. By 2040, 60% of Level 4 consumers (people who live on more than $32 a day) will live outside these countries, and 50% of US revenue currently comes from outside the US.
While a global strategy can be hard to get off the ground for many reasons, enabling your corporate program by taking a talent-first approach is definitely a great way to get started.
At the same time, the want to expand doesn’t mean your company is ready to reach out to foreign markets. There are many challenges that could prevent your international expansion.
What Challenges Prevent a Successful Global Strategy?
The answer to “what is an international strategy” isn’t as vital as your readiness. If you want to be sure you’re capable of global expansion, check if you’re prepared for these challenges.
1. Brand Relevance
Not every brand is relevant overseas, but you can make a few changes without making your brand unrecognizable. Different countries have different expectations for how they want brands to communicate with them, so you’ll need to create a goal that focuses on adapting your brand.
When creating your marketing tactics, always remember that your goals dictate the tactics, whether you’re making a B2B marketing strategy or something else entirely. Your customer profile and target audience will also answer who you’re selling to, how to do it, and why.
2. Market Suitability
Market suitability is similar to brand relevance but deals more with misplaced expectations. A ready market in the US can mimic one overseas, but that doesn’t mean that market wants to try your products. You may need to prep the market or wait until your products become relevant.
Lack of market need is one of the common reasons why businesses fail. If you want to know whether your products are ready to launch, search for open opportunities in the country.
According to a Common Sense Advisory news report, 75% of non-Anglophone speakers would buy a foreign product if it was in their native language. This shows that you can’t just create a product and hope it sells, as even great products won’t localize well if they’re still in English.
The biggest barrier to localization is language, but the success of your website, products, and content depends on your fluency. Cultural differences can change the meaning of words and your messaging. If you don’t hire a translator, you could write or say something embarrassing.
4. Currency (Finances)
Currency conversions, common forms of payment, and budget tracking are just some of the hurdles you and your staff are going to have to jump through. Although a financial app is suitable for personal finances, you’ll need a bit more to stay compliant.
From fluctuating exchange rates to shifts in cultural norms regarding payment types, you don’t just need financial smarts to get by. You also need a team of HR staff and payroll experts.
Speaking of payroll experts, global payroll can be tricky depending on how many countries you expand to. A global payroll department needs to understand labor laws, local payroll practices, international banking protocols, onboarding requirements, compliance obligations, and more.
You’re increasing your compliance risks if you don’t stay up-to-date with local payroll laws, privacy and data collection rules, tax codes, employee benefits, and licenses. You either need a platform like CXC Comply and/or a talented localization/HR team to keep it all straight.
6. Sourcing Talent
Hiring local talent is hard enough, but it’s especially hard to onboard staff you can’t talk to in person. Building and managing a dream remote team has its benefits if you can navigate different time zones and interview staff using video conferencing software or video recordings.
If there’s a language barrier involved, you may need translators or localization experts. You’ll need a team that can understand the nuances in your hiring market to find the right talent.
Internationalization refers to globalizing the digital products that your customers and employees use. However, internationalization deals with preparing your products and services for globalization when it happens, which is a skill that’s hard to find within marketing talent.
Digital assets, like software, apps, IoT, websites, and blogs, need to be written in simple English and coding languages. That way, you won’t have to perform extensive engineering changes to adapt to a new culture or audience. This prep work can save you a lot of time and money.
Maybe You’re Not Ready, but CXC can get you There!
We didn’t make the switch to a global workforce sound hard on purpose. Globalization is challenging for all businesses, big or small. A key part of running a business, talent sourcing, can look widely different in Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America.
Whatever strategy you decide on, CXC has assisted companies in North America and over 100 countries to expand their business globally and implement their global strategy plans.
CXC is a global HR outsourcing organization with 30 years of experience in workforce management. Our innovative and cost-effective solutions help companies gain a competitive advantage by improving efficiency while reducing risks.