1 Have a Plan.

Many companies use ‘gut instinct’ when going international. Instinct is good but combine it with a sound plan with objectives and methodologies – this will help prevent mistakes. Understand your company and its long-term strategy. Match the company strategy with market strategy. Make the best, most informed business choices by understanding the market and your fit.
2 Understand your customers.

Companies make assumptions on who their customers are without testing their theories. A start-up spent two years believing that their customers were doctors, when they were nurses. Money and effort are often channeled in the wrong markets. Keep close to your customers, they will give you good ideas for product extensions/enhancements. Make products that your customers want not what you want to make.

3 Do due diligence on the market place.

Find out the market size for your product, market growth potential, market share potential, the competition, economy, politics and regulatory issues. This will result in a stronger understanding of the market and your competition. Once you know where you stand you will know how to win.
4 Do due diligence on potential business partners/joint ventures.

Choose reliable business partners. There are too many stories of partners going bankrupt; A company chose an “out-sourced sales and distribution” partner who went bankrupt and had all its stocks impounded. The company lost many customers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenues. Make sure you get business references and use experienced professional advisors.
5 Protect intellectual property rights.

It is much less expensive to invest in good intellectual property protection up front than to try to recover when your ideas are taken. Protecting your valuable Trademarks and Patents internationally requires timely filing. Think global from the onset. Protect your technology in all the countries where you intend to make or sell your products or services.
6 Have enforceable agreements/contracts.

Do not do business on a “handshake.” Have agreements with written duties so each party knows what is expected. Termination clauses are important. Laws are different in different countries. Make sure your agreement is enforceable in the country where you are doing business.
7 Choose long-term solutions.

Do not choose quick fixes. Evaluate every decision against your long-term goals. Answer the question – “does this get us where we need to be?” A software company wanted to enter Europe and initially chose a country where they had a client. With careful help and investigation, it was found that it was the most difficult market to capture. Trenarthan built a complete European market strategy for this company. Within a year of market entry sales were close to one million dollars from this region.
8 Use appropriate marketing country by country.

Examine every market as if it were a unique and separate business decision. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and competitive edge. Plan for different marketing models in different markets. A virtual company was trying to develop business in Europe by using the same methodologies applied in the United States. They had no success. Trenarthan helped develop an effective customer acquisition strategy tailored on a country by country basis.
9 Be flexible to market opportunities.

Accept change. Examine all options carefully before selecting the best strategy. As market conditions fluctuate and your experience increases, be prepared to refine and modify your approach.
10 Seek and take the advice of specialists.

Specialists can fast-track market entry. One of Trenarthan’s clients spent four years trying to enter the European market. Within six months from engagement, we located an asset acquisition candidate (our preference) and secured substantial government funding in support of the investment.