4 Must-Know Tips For International Business
There will come a point in your business growth where your small to medium business or small to medium enterprise will need to expand into international markets. It’s a natural part of growing a business or enterprise.
But when expanding internationally there’s a whole other slew of aspects you will need to consider in order to make your expansion successful. International trading can come with a host of legal requirements and limitations.
In this article we will be covering some of the most important aspects to consider when taking your products or services to other countries. Before we begin, it is always advisable to consult a lawyer that specialises in international trade law.
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Know About The Trademark And Patent Requirements
Depending on the nation you are expanding into, you may need to consider registering your trademarks with their authorities and looking at how your patents will be recognised.
Failure to do so won’t protect your ideas, concepts, or products being imitated within the national bounds of that country. If that happens without the correct trademark or IP protections in place, there’s very little you can do about it.
If you are only planning to expand your business into one nation, then this is probably something you can handle yourself. However, if you are expanding into multiple territories at the same time with multiple products, that’s a lot of work to get the paperwork correct.
Be it Docketing, IP lifecycle management, patent & trademark maintenance, trademark research and protection, or any other related endeavour, it is often best to outsource these services to allow you to focus on running your operations.
It is also a good idea to outsource these services to ensure they remain legally compliant and accurate for local as well as regional laws.
Consider The Cultural Impact
Different cultures will react to your product or services in a variety of ways. What may be a hit in one nation may be a flop in a neighbouring nation, such is the way of the world.
There’s always the famous example of Colgate to consider when we talk about cultural impact. While the brand has retained its name in some Spanish speaking nations, there are dialects of Spanish for which Colgate translates to “go hang yourself” – particularly in South American Spanish dialects. Needless to say, this isn’t the best brand name for business in those nations.
So, when expanding into new markets it’s imperative that you perform adequate research into your brand, products, and services to try and anticipate how they will be received in the international markets you are targeting.
It is always a good idea to consult with natives of your target nation, and your target demographic within that nation, about this, rather than attempting to extrapolate from research that you conduct yourself.
Decide What Name To Operate Under
There’s also the question of what name to conduct business under. It may be worth your while to register under a name unique to that nation. Doing this can prevent any conflicts with your trading name causing legal problems later down the line with companies in your target nation owning the rights to trade under similar (or even the same) name.
Adequate amounts of trademark and trading name research can uncover if your business name is available in your target nation.
A famous example of this is the Penny’s and Primark name conventions between Ireland and the UK for the same company. In 1973, when the Penny’s founder decided to expand to the UK, the American retailer J. C. Penny was trading under the Penny name – hence the change in trading name to Primark.
It is absolutely worth doing the appropriate amount of preparation where this is concerned to avoid legal repercussions of trading under an already protected name without knowing. The monetary and legal ramifications of doing so could halt any expansion plans before they can get started.
Learn Their Language
Now, we don’t mean to take a two year course on Tagalog to expand into Indonesia, but learning some basic phrases and/or hiring a translator for your international expansion plans is always recommended. That being said, you’d be surprised how many companies only use basic translations for their products and services.
Having professional, succinct, and accurate translations – especially for complex language use – is a brilliant way to garner support almost immediately. Doing so will demonstrate to your target consumer base or client base that you care enough to learn the subtleties of their language.
For example, if you were expanding to India and the areas of India that use Hindi, you would need to decide how to use their language. There’s Hindi script, Hindi using the Latin alphabet, and the fact that Hindi is often spoken in real life with English phrases entwined into its use.
Knowing what form of a language to use, and what form of a language your target audience uses, is paramount to international success.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to expanding internationally. This article serves as a good starting point, but there’s a lot more to consider, and building out a team of trusted and knowledgeable international brand ambassadors is a must.
Success hinges on how your product or service is received, so ensure it’s received in the best possible way to give your company a great shot at breaking into a new market.