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How do you know it’s time to take your small business global?

If your small business is doing well in the domestic market, why not consider attracting new customers internationally?

 Let’s explore a few factors to consider before you decide to take the plunge into new markets.

1. Understand where your customers are

It’s important to access and narrow down the markets that can offer the most opportunity for your business. Studying your website analytics over a few weeks or months is a solid first step in understanding where your potential customers are sitting. It’s believed that the rule of thumb is: “If your business is already receiving a substantial number of impressions, engagement, or orders from another country, it might be time to look into the potential of the market.”

2. Do your research

All good research begins with asking yourself the right questions to ensure that your plan to expand is strategic and well thought out. Serial entrepreneur – Troy Hazard – believes that this journey begins with a handful of questions: why there? why now? and how?

The answers to these questions will give you a clearer picture of the market you’re looking to step into, it’s readiness and interest in your product as well as how your competition is already fairing within that space. Surveys and feedback forms or even your own desktop research are a great first step before investing your money and resources into the expansion. Plus, initial research can also help you curate your marketing message for specific markets and increase your chances of international success at a later stage.

3. Find out what it takes to play in this new space

A new market means new rules, especially for matters such as governing policies. Do you know what the customs process for getting your product into this new market is? What about the local tax structures which your business will have to adhere to? Doing business internationally requires more than just being able to accept international orders, you will need to know the rules and regulations of getting your products into this market and how to sell in it.

4. Explore how to keep costs low

Leveraging digital tools available to you can help you minimize start-up costs and lower risks of expanding internationally. With e-commerce on the rise, setting up an online store would be an option to consider – its more convenient, cost effective and gives you more control.

Locally, e-commerce growth was at 66% in 2020, and according to a Deloitte study, 70% of South Africans are shopping online at least once a month. “77% of Asia Pacific businesses have found a surge in customers via online channels, while nearly half of small Asia Pacific businesses that use Meta reported making 25% of their sales digitally”. We therefore see that the e-commerce market is maturing both locally and internationally, which means that as a business owner, you’ll have to make sure that your shipping provider can make entering a new market easy and save your money in the process. Explore and compare the international shipping capabilities of the providers you short list, as well as the kind of integrated e-commerce solution they can offer you.

Ultimately, entering a new market can be both thrilling and intimidating, but it can also provide your business with a new source of income. If you’re ready to take the next step, remember to do your due diligence before jumping all in. You can also explore how FedEx can help you take your small business beyond your borders by visiting

Fedex Express is a proud Partner of the NSBC

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