With the Internet making it easier than ever for companies to trade across the world, more and more businesses are going global. This can give businesses improved access to a much wider audience, potentially allowing them to operate in more prosperous economies than their own and take advantage of less crowded marketplaces.
However, the mistake many businesses make when going international is expanding into already saturated markets. While your business could still succeed in countries like America, China, or Spain, it may be wiser to explore territories that are not only less competitive, but are just as – if not more – conducive to your ambitions.
When expanding your business into foreign territories, try to think outside the box. Taking advantage of up-and-coming marketplaces like the ones below could be a much savvier move in the long run.
As international sanctions on Iran have been lifted by most countries (aside from the United States), you should really be looking there if you run a non-American company wanting to expand abroad.
With a population of over 80 million people, Iran is the most populous country in the Middle East and 18th in the world overall. With over 46 million Internet users in the country, it is an easily targetable area for businesses. Iran is also the 18th largest economy in the world and is expected to break into the top 10 within the next couple of decades. Taking into account all of these attributes, the country represents an untapped goldmine for ambitious companies.
A BBC profile on Iran lists some of the most enticing areas that could be fruitful for businesses, like the aviation, oil, and tourism industries. Many companies have already taken advantage of these opportunities since the sanctions were lifted. With sectors like tourism expected to grow exponentially in upcoming years and the Iranian government eager to attract even more foreign investors, your business could do the same.
If you do decide to venture to Iran, there are a few different things you should be aware of. One such consideration is a completely different business culture with unique meeting and working etiquettes. These include exchanging gifts in meetings and the working week starting on Saturdays. There are also many religious events that can affect businesses, such as the holy month of Muharram. Celebrated by the 90% of Iranian Muslims that follow the Twelver Shia creed of Islam, Muharram is likely to slow your operations, as many organizations refrain from non-essential business during the first 10 days of the holy month.
You are also likely to have to do business in one of Iran’s languages, like Farsi, the country’s most used language. Whilst Farsi’s grammar is fairly easy to grasp – none of the nouns have genders, for instance – unless you already employ a native speaker, it is still worth hiring English to Farsi translation services. This will enable your business to fire on all cylinders from the get-go.
The ASEAN countries
If you’re looking to infiltrate the Asian market, the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries are where you should be looking. The ASEAN is a huge market comprising 10 nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. With a total population of 626 million and an overall economy worth a staggering $2.4 trillion, the opportunities for businesses are vast. ASEAN’s economy has grown 300% since 2001, putting it only behind China as the second fastest growing Asian economy.
The region is a particularly fertile place to do business because of its rapidly growing consumer market. There are currently 67 million middle-class households, a figure that is expected to double by 2025. As Mike Rowan, the North’s regional manager for trade credit insurer Atradius, told Chronicle Live, “these maturing economies… are becoming independent, sophisticated economies and mini-powerhouses in their own right.” ASEAN’s free-trade agreements with China and India are also hugely beneficial for businesses, giving the country much easier access to these (also) prosperous markets.
If you do decide to start trading in the ASEAN region, you will need to take into account the huge discrepancy in prospects between its different nations. Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar have considerably less well-developed infrastructures than the others, and it will probably be at least a decade until these countries can provide a competitive advantage. For a more in-depth overview of the ASEAN market, look at the Investing in ASEAN 2017 report. This covers some of the most important investment considerations, such as sectors prime for investment (like tourism), in-depth profiles of each ASEAN nation, and how to manage the risks amid the opportunities of ASEAN investment.
After retaining its spot on the top of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, New Zealand continues to be a great bet for businesses looking to go global. According to the report, there is only one procedure needed to set up a business, and it only takes half a day to fulfill. The country’s recent reformation of the way taxes are paid, by implementing online payment systems, has also been a huge help to businesses.
However, it is not just the ease of doing business that makes New Zealand such an attractive prospect for foreign businesses. The country has the 20th-highest GDP per capita in the world and offers significant opportunities in industries like biotechnology, tourism, education, and wine-making. With the country’s fantastic infrastructure and business-friendly taxation schemes, as well as the lack of a language barrier, New Zealand represents a great place to trade.
For more on bolstering your bottom line through foreign expansion, read International Trade And The Intelligent Enterprise Part 1 and Part 2.