International businessI want to introduce a product internationally. What are the first steps?
Consider where you are going to obtain materials and manufacture your product? If you're doing this in the market country, you need to be very familiar with labor laws, obtaining construction permits for factories, transportation of materials and of finished goods, taxes and levies that may need to be paid, and so on.
If you're manufacturing in North America and then exporting abroad, you'll need to consider availability of transportation, shelf life of your product before it has expired, special needs while it is being transported and the associated costs (refrigerated shipping, extra padding, and so on), restrictions on importation to other countries of various commodities or components.
One thing that you need to do is to make sure that you have a good name for your product that will work in the country you are trying to penetrate. For example, companies moving into China try to give their products names that can be written using "good" characters. Since there are many characters for each sound, and each character has a different meaning, there are many different meanings that can be made out of characters that have a given sound. It is important in China to use good characters.
The same goes in other countries. There is a famous example of the Chevy Nova having trouble selling in Latin America because "no va" means "it doesn't go..."
Also check out the state of the black market in those countries. Wired magazine recently had an article which talked about the massive success of unlicensed, untaxed sellers on the street and online, and how some businesses have actually created brands specific to that market. If there is a demand for cheaper products, you might make out like a bandit with a cheaper, black-market-only brand name. I am not advocating this, because it is illegal; however, the fact that some companies are doing it and succeeding is certainly something to consider.
Before entry into any foreign country there are many factors that have to be looked at. A necessary step to be taken is a thorough analysis of the culture and tastes of people in the country. For example McDonald's had to introduce a menu that did not contain any items containing beef when it made its entry into India. It also had to introduce a large number of vegetarian dishes to cater to a large fraction of the population that is vegetarian.
You need to investigate logistics in the places you are planning on marketing. Weather, roads, shipping rates, even cultural factors like the ones mentioned above (and some more serious ones) all play important roles in decisions about marketing internationally. You would also need to decide what kind of arrangement you would want to set up. Would you export, set up onsite manufacturing, pay subsidiaries? These are all crucial decisions.
The very first thing I would do is thoroughly investigate the laws relating to commerce in the target country and also the stability and reliability of the legal system. Apparently foreign investment in Russia has been badly hurt because the Russian legal system is unreliable. I would also want to know everything possible about taxes, tariffs, potential subsidies, etc.
Another important consideration is to know yourself. Do you have contacts overseas? As you might know, much of business is through relationships outside of America. Without these relationships, it will be hard to get anything accomplished. Relationships are more important in many ways than great products and services. So, you need to ask, who you know.
It is very important to consider the brand and also advertising your product. If you think of one incredibly successful international brand, Coca-cola, they have similar advertising and slogans and a very distinct brand that is international. This is something that can help you gain an international market for your product.