Women In Business

Growing your business across borders and oceans

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Building a business is hard work – taking that business and attempting to break into international markets is even harder. But if you’re determined to spread your wings and soar into global expansion, there are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of success.

1) Develop firm foundations

Start at the beginning and take a close look at your current operation. Are its foundations strong enough to withstand an expansion? Do you have sufficient resources and staff to help you juggle international opportunities while keeping your local customers happy? With the right crew in your corner you’ll be supported structurally, financially and emotionally so that you’re international venture can hit the ground running.

2) Forge strong, local relationships

Having established contacts on the ground will help make any international expansion process much smoother. In fact, all it takes is one strong relationship to be the tipping point that establishes your brand in a new market and ultimately takes your business to a whole new level. Go to industry events, trade shows and conferences wherever possible – here you’ll find like-minded people keen to develop relationships and make introductions.

Things by Bean, a Melbourne-based greeting card business that celebrates all occasions, non-occasions and made-up occasions, got its big break when founder Jo Power attended Melbourne’s Life Instyle retail trade show. While there she met with the T J Maxx and HomeGoods buyer and has since secured a major deal showcasing her wares in stores across both the United States and the United Kingdom. Power is thrilled to be given the opportunity to expand into the UK and US markets.

“We are so excited to be picked up by such a prominent international retailer,” says Power. “In our experience, we’ve seen that the American public embraces quirky card designs and we’re confident that Things by Bean’s offbeat humour will strike the right chord for our British counterparts, too.”

3) Budget wisely

Budget will always be front of mind when looking to expand globally – however the move doesn’t always have to come with a hefty price tag. The right marketing strategy teamed with a good dose of technology and social media could be all you need to start sharing your message with the other side of the world.

Last year, Power expanded Things by Bean further with the introduction of the Things by Bean blog featuring crazy cake recipes and DIY party ideas. Not only does the blog act as an extension of the brand, it also attracts traffic from all over the world, ultimately expanding the business’ audience.

“Giving someone the perfect card can make them really happy – my recent projects are just extensions of that,” says Power. “The blog is full of more ways to make people feel special, whether it’s making them a cake or a crafty little gift. And the podcast explores the tradition, science and pop culture behind a day when people should feel the most special – their birthday!”

4) Focus on the big picture

Going global is a big deal, so it’s really important you remember to see it as a long-term, sustainable opportunity. International expansion isn’t the type of thing that happens over night, it takes time and perseverance. There will be obstacles along the way, that’s inevitable, what matters is the way you deal with them at the time. Be resilient and give each issue the attention it warrants and resolve it in full before moving on to the next opportunity. Now’s not the time to put your head in the sand.

The Things by Bean deal will launch with 26 of Power’s quirky cards across the T J Maxx stores – a huge win that will undoubtedly have a big impact on the local business. But the move has been a long time in the making thanks to Power’s vision to lead the company through a logistical upscaling with new partners and procedures in place to fulfil high volume orders and global expansion.

Power says, “For any business owner that’s been doing everything themselves for years, it will feel odd to outsource. But once you realise the potential of third-party contracting and the impact it can have on your ability to scale, you’ll wish you’d done it sooner!”

Choosing the right strategies to break into international markets will entirely depend on the type of business you own – but one tactic will remain the same across all industries: take your time, do your due diligence and proceed with the appropriate business assessment at hand before making any big moves. From there, you’ll be ready to spread those wings and soar.

About Jo Power

Jo Power is the director of the cute and cheeky card company ‘Things by Bean’. Founded in 2011, Things by Bean has since grown into a brand stocked by more than 50 retailers Australia wide and expanded into an online hub for all things party related www.thingsbybean.com.

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