5 questions to answer before expanding to emerging markets

You are considering expanding business to emerging markets and you have already identified one or more countries. Growth opportunities are getting scarce in your home environment, and this could be a chance, or even a necessity for your Company’s business sustainability on the long run. This is absolutely righteous thinking but are you sure you have what it takes.
1)      Have you got a real concept ?
Cultural proximity is an important success factor, but it’s no more than an enabler. You might have the same ideas that your competitors have but what will make difference is how original, how disruptive your concept is. Your product or service may address untapped need, your selling model may drive your offering faster to market, or your pricing model may disrupt existing offer, etc.. Make sure you have that one thing, tangible, that makes you special and unique when addressing new specific markets.
2)      Is it worth it?
Assess market potential and your ambitions : are they aligned?
Appraise precisely resources you will need to put on the ground : minimum required to start – fixed costs, capital if you plan to set a subsidiary, set up costs linked to securing partnership or permanent local resources working at starting up business for you. When summing up all start-up costs and resources, are you sure this can be covered by worst case business scenario ?
If yes, thing about a more ambitious scenario. And plan it modular as much as possible (set resources incrementally as business grows) up until the point you are confident you made the right reasonably optimistic plan.
Do not assess market potential on guesses: there’s always statistics and market information you should rely on. If there isn’t, do the job, exploratory trips and networking shall help. Put yourself in the shoes of the Banker that may finance your expansion and try to answer the questions he may ask you : always tease yourself.
3)      Are you ready to reorganize your professional and personal life ?
From the very first day your Company will decide to go for it, your life will take a different path, and that will need reorganizing yourself, professionally and personally. Things you were doing on the spot will have to be done remotely, can you  leave those weekly habits you were enjoying for years ? Will your family environment cope with your new life ?  Are you ready to handle late night issues from your home market you won’t be able to handle anymore during daytime ? Start-up phase is demanding a lot, are you ready for no break in the next 12 months or have you prepared relevant support to resist pressure ?
4)      Is your Organization ready ?
Your Company shall work with new governance standards. Is there some bandwidth available within Company resources, timetables .. to support such expansion ?
Have you got a strong project manager with you to coordinate all functions in the Company to support such expansion, and who will run home operations as good as you were doing it ? because make no mistake : it’s safer for your Company to delegate home business than delegating the new one : the latter needs you more than the former.
5)      Have you got the right plan ?
Nothing will be achieved without a reasonable plan, not optimistic, not realistic, just a reasonable one, taking into accounts all hurdles in the new place that you could not imagine facing in your home market. Get much intelligence on administrative steps in the new place, how you can reasonably reduce time to market and make sure you follow up on every critical step of your plan ? Be prepared for an exit strategy at every step that may prove your plan not feasible anymore.
How are your answers?
Go for it and Good luck !



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