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1 Nov 2023 • 2 min read

Expanding Your Business Internationally: What the Experts Know

Danny Parker

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Craving international growth? It's not just about shipping your products across borders. Find out what seasoned experts wish they had known before taking their business global.

What Had You Wish You Had Known Before Expanding Overseas?

When you're running a successful business, the allure of new, untapped international markets can be too tempting to ignore. Yet, diving into these waters comes with its own set of challenges. Hakan Steele, Partner Manager at Starshipit, a New Zealand-based SaaS company specializing in integrated shipping and tracking, shares one critical insight.

Administrative Challenges are Often Underestimated Most companies focus on whether their product is legal in the target country, open a tax account, and perhaps hire a legal consultant. But they often underestimate the complexity of international shipping regulations, duties, and taxes. These become crippling issues when operations scale up.

"It's fine to do things in a manual way when you're shipping one or two orders, but it just doesn't work at scale," says Hakan. As businesses grow, the intricate web of compliance standards and paperwork can become a logistical nightmare. Planning for this administrative burden beforehand is crucial for smooth expansion.

What Did ‘Local Resources’ Not Seem To Cover That You Had to Learn Along the Way?

Local governmental resources and business councils can provide valuable insights, but they're often not enough. While New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has been a helpful resource for companies like Starshipit, Hakan points out that nothing can replace the value of having 'boots on the ground'.

The Invaluable Insights of Local Experience There are intricacies in local markets that you can only grasp by being there, speaking to potential customers, suppliers, or partners. "I think there's nothing quite like having boots on the ground. And it doesn't necessarily have to be permanently, but initially perhaps," suggests Hakan.

The insights gained from local presence can be game-changing, from understanding consumer behaviour to decoding local business practices.

What Would Be Your Biggest Piece of Advice For Other People Looking to Expand Their Business Internationally?

Expansion is not just about shipping products; it's about creating a network that can support your international aspirations.

Choose Your Partners Wisely Whether it's the couriers, third-party logistics, or software vendors, the partners you engage with can either make or break your international venture. Hakan stresses the value of partnering with premium services, not just for their primary offerings but for the additional insights they provide.

For example, using a globally recognized courier service like DHL Express could offer valuable insights into taxes and documentation specific to the European or UK markets.

"Be very deliberate about the partners you're looking for and really choose them wisely," recommends Hakan. The right partners don't just add to the efficiency of your operations; they can be a treasure trove of business intelligence and market insights.

Expanding Responsibly

International expansion is a challenging yet rewarding venture. It requires thorough planning, local understanding, and the right partnerships to navigate successfully. With insights from industry experts like Hakan Steele, you're better equipped to make informed decisions on your international expansion journey.