Key challenges to international business growth

by - 6 December 2016
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The international business environment holds innumerable opportunities for growth and expansion into new markets, as well as tapping into wider pools of talent. That said, international business growth brings with it a whole slew of new challenges and trials, which can undermine the business efforts of any ambitious business owner if caught off guard.

In this blog post, we’ll outline a few key challenges businesses are likely to face as they step onto the international stage.

Language and cultural barriers

Anyone who’s been on a business trip to a country where they don’t speak the language knows just how challenging it can be. When you’re selling your product or service to the local population, you need to know that your messaging and tone translate well into their language and are suitable in the context of the local culture.

For example, business deals in East Asia or the Middle East tend to happen more slowly than they do in Australia or the United States, with an emphasis on building trust and getting to know the other party before anything is signed. Australian businesses who don’t respect this will seem overly eager and untrustworthy.

Businesses owners who can’t afford hiring full time bilingual staff to manage their remote operations should consider outsourcing their regional customer service and hiring freelancers to translate their marketing materials.

Recruiting and retaining high quality talent

As a business grows into new international markets, it needs to hire new staff to deal with issues on the ground and keep things running smoothly. Without regional experience or a reputation to attract solid talent, it’s a lot harder to know off the bat whether any given hire will guarantee ROI.

International business growth brings with it a necessary uncertainty, which can make it even more difficult to hire full time staff, as well as increasing financial risk. This is especially the case with highly skilled IT staff, as they play a crucial role in core business processes, cost more, and are generally in short supply. Outsourcing IT is a great and versatile way to overcome this challenge, as is employing the services of an IT consulting firm.

Underdeveloped technical infrastructure

Developing economies often offer the biggest potential for untapped markets and cost-effective labour, but are also more likely to have underdeveloped technological infrastructure. This can be an issue for web-based or SaaS companies that depend on high-bandwidth connectivity and robust servers.

The most common solution to this problem entails cloud-based hosting that distribute the server load across large areas, thereby reducing latency while boosting scalability. For organisations that depend on local hosting, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) are often the answer, as they facilitate the delivery of location-specific web content powered by a distributed network of servers.

Inefficient internal processes

International business growth increases the complexity of an organisation’s internal processes on a near-exponential rate. Before you know it, the business is stuck in a mire of outdated manual processes that consume time and resources without actually driving business growth and moving the company forward.

Automating and streamlining key internal processes can prevent this from happening and help a business scale smoothly. Cloud-based applications like Google Docs are also an effective way to streamline communications across offices no matter where in the world they are.

Are your internal processes and IT infrastructure conducive to international business growth? Take our free IT health check for a commitment-free expert opinion.