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Internationalisation - From local to global - 5 things to know before going international

February 4, 2021

Giulia Sirigu
Senior innovation and growth specialist

The internationalisation journey for companies doing innovation is all about adaptation and discovery. With the right preparation, it can boost your growth by finding new customers, diversifying your offer and increasing your competitiveness.

International expansion provides new and potentially profitable markets, facilitates the connection with new services and product ideas, gives access to new manufacturing innovation and introduces you to new processes and technologies.

Although going global can increase firm competitiveness, it also represents a difficult step if you don’t know how to strategically approach new countries and adapt your products and services to new and different contexts and requirements.

When going from local to global, it is important to look inward and outward. Going abroad will impact your strategy, product or service offer, but also your organisation, your funding requirements and your future as a business! Preparation is key and vision is needed.

The work you do before is equally important than the work you do after finding new routes to the global market. It is necessary to establish realistic goals, a clear plan and reach the expected results.

In this blog, I share 5 key aspects of your business that you need to look at before going international. In the next internationalisation blog, I’ll talk about what you need to know about the key aspects of the foreign market you want to reach.

Looking inward - Understanding what’s your position and where you are located

The work you do before going international provides you definition and a clear understanding of your limits and goals. They are all essential elements to have sustainable growth and reduce the number of unexpected delays and difficulties.

Check the list below to see which are the key aspects of your business that you need to look at before going international.

  • Verify what you can offer. Establish what is your added value and your innovation for the new market. Your product specificity is essential, it’s at the core of your marketing strategy. However, bear in mind that your Value Proposition should change when you are changing your market. After all, if what is around you is changing you must be able to re-interpret which type of additionality you are going to provide to that specific market.


  • Know your competitors inside-out. Research who your main competitors are and understand their strategies. Make sure you are not proposing the same solutions and find the right place in the market. Differentiate yourself from the other competitors and products/services already in the market. To find your right place in foreign markets you need to make sure that you present a product that is either: innovative; economically more convenient or more accessible.


  • Understand and be understood. Check your cultural proximity to international customers. Verify if you can understand customers’ needs in foreign markets and if they can understand your business! Buyers and sellers can have a different perception of your product (or service). The cultural distance can be a barrier when we want to understand and obtain knowledge about a foreign market, so it is essential that you and your future customers interpret your business activity in the same way.


  • Do your math. Profit and growth goals are important. If your financial and business plan is created considering certain levels of growth, then it is important to explore all the available opportunities, but be careful about how you channel your managerial urge. You need to know what you are going to do and how much you can spend to do it. You do not want to risk overestimating your finances, your resources and your energies!


  • Maximise the use of your assets. Maximise what you have already got: from Intellectual Property Rights to knowledge of channels and distributors, to your presence in a specific network. Going abroad also means optimising what you already created for your business. For instance, you can benefit from your IP rights just by using them abroad without moving from home, or you can manage your internationalisation time scale maximising your existent contacts in the distribution network or strengthening your partnerships. Doing so, you can remove your barriers to entry and create new ones for your competitors, reducing the competitive pressure on your business.


Read our next blog to learn more about what you need to know about the key aspects of the foreign market that you want to reach.

If you would like help creating your internationalisation strategy or going international contact me. I‘ll be happy to help you surf international markets, find a relevant partner and sources in foreign markets, and guide you to build and refine your internationalisation strategy.

Your business can benefit from Innovate UK Edge internationalisation support.

February 4, 2021
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