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16 Nov 2022

Going international takes courage and preparation

Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? Well, maybe not greener, but there could be more of it. As Finland is a relatively small market, businesses may begin to look outside the country for growth. 

When the idea of internationalization has been planted, it may be hard to refrain from taking on the world immediately. But expanding internationally is not something you want to do without preparing properly. Internationalization should be approached like a long-term process instead of a project. 

Good plans will increase the possibility of success

Internationalization consists of three main phases: 

  1. Preparation
  2. Planning and scheduling
  3. Realization

During the preparation phase, you should assess whether your business has the facilities to test the waters internationally, i.e., does the reality of the situation correspond to your desires and vision. You should prepare for the possibility that you need enough money, human resources, and patience, i.e., time to last you for several years before you close your first international sale. 

Matters that need to be clarified:

  • Profitability of your business activities
  • Human resources
  • Suitability of your product or service for the international market
  • Customer cooperation, cooperation with subcontractors and partners
  • Inhouse competence and the possibility to acquire competence

Once you have made the decision to expand internationally, you should create a long-term plan. A good plan will significantly reduce the financial and other risks related to internationalization.

An internationalization strategy should aim to resolve the following issues:

  • Internationalization schedule
  • Business activities and personnel-related matters
  • Products and Services
  • Sales and marketing
  • Legal and contract-related matters

While planning and preparation is good, you should not get stuck on this phase for too long. A common method used in the international markets is to sell your product first, then manufacture and finalize it.

People trade with each other

Once you begin to implement your chosen strategy, your focus turns on sales and marketing and the people who do the work. The creation of a customer relationship requires building trust, which does not happen overnight. It is often said that where Finns give up after three meetings, making a sale would require at least five! 

Knowledge of the culture and the people of your target country can be a great help when trying to build trust. This means that your company would benefit from a reliable contact in the target country, who could open doors and carry out sales work independently. Business Finland and Finnish agencies in other countries can also provide helpful assistance, for example. 

Persistent work and patience pay off when you close your first sale. After this, new deals will be much easier, as your company can show an international reference and repeat the successful sales process.

Words of encouragement for businesses looking to expand internationally

  • Everything does not need to perfect right from the start; you can make changes and adjustments later where necessary.
  • You do not need perfect language skills; often your customers will not be using their native language either.
  • Trust that patience will be rewarded. It is perfectly normal to leave a negotiating table five times without a result.
  • You do not have to do everything by yourself. Seek and accept assistance and support. 
  • Remember that if your dreams are not exciting or even a little scary, they are not big enough.

 

 
 
 

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