Most companies that have achieved success in their home country have at least considered expanding their operations into other nations across the world. After all, building a thriving global empire is every modern business leader’s dream, right?
Unfortunately, there’s a somewhat common misconception that true globalization can only be accomplished by huge multinational conglomerates or Fortune 500 companies.
In reality, there are thousands upon thousands of companies that could be growing their customer base, expanding their workforce, and increasing their revenue potential by going global. The only thing stopping them is that they’ve yet to try in earnest, perhaps because they haven’t fully considered the benefits that globalization has to offer.
Whether your organization has plans to start this year or you think you’re still a long way away from establishing an international presence, here are a few things to consider.
Grow your customer base
Once a company is able to prove that there’s an audience for its product and/or services at home, looking to tap into new markets should be a natural next step. Some companies choose to expand internationally, as they’re experiencing rapid growth in their primary market, in an effort to double down on their achievements. Other times, a company will choose to go global once they’ve hit a growth ceiling and have started struggling to acquire customers in a given market.
Another common scenario is the fast-growing organization that wants to globalize but doesn’t have the volume to justify hiring full-time multilingual customer support. Companies in this situation can utilize AI translation technology to test new markets and expand their customer base without a big upfront investment. For example, Unbabel helped online travel agency GetYourGuide access new markets by providing the translation quality and efficiency of a native speaking team at 1/10 of the cost.
What’s the key to gaining traction and customers in a new market? Three words: Do your homework. The 21st century is already littered with examples of name-brand organizations that flopped abroad due to unfortunate oversights and concepts that were lost in translation, like the big box store that didn’t perceive Brits’ preference for boutique shops or the automaker that underestimated Americans’ love of big vehicles.
We’ve written about the essential components of identifying potential new customer groups and testing product-market fit before, and the bottom line is that your business must be prepared to serve its global customers in a highly local way. That means using tools like market research combined with professional translation services to acquire a deep understanding of a region’s language, customs, and local culture — even if you’re conducting all of your operations there remotely.
Expand your talent pool
As labor markets continue to become more and more competitive, especially in areas that are considered tech hubs, going global can also broaden your company’s reach in hiring top talent. One incredible effect of our increasingly digital workforce is that you can have teams within your company that are distributed all across the world, yet are just as (if not more) productive as they would be working under the same roof. According to one large-scale market research report, the global digital workplace market is expected to reach 44.9 billion dollars by 2026.
Globalization gives organizations an exciting opportunity to extend their employer brand into fresh markets, allowing them to leverage new ideas, skill sets, and experiences. It also gives companies the ability to scale hiring as needed based on seasonal demand and staffing needs that can fluctuate for a wide variety of reasons. Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in customer service demand and the need for language translation services for companies across a wide variety of industries, including tech, e-commerce, gaming, fashion, and education, to name a few.
Another thrilling development is that a new generation of global leaders are starting to recognize the power of Language Operations (LangOps), a cross-disciplinary function that helps global businesses communicate more effectively with their multilingual clients and stakeholders. At Unbabel, we believe that an overarching, AI-driven language strategy has the potential to democratize language, empowering a world full of happier customers, more satisfied workers, and increased collaboration between businesses and industries.
Increase revenue potential
The ultimate goal of expanding your global customer base and workforce is, of course, to drive more revenue. Each new market you’re able to tap into provides another stream of revenue for your company, allowing you to diversify your investments. It also gives you the ability to experiment with new products or services that could potentially catch on and end up significantly accelerating your business growth trajectory.
Companies that operate in only one country can face major consequences if something goes wrong. Every economy has its ups and down, and tying your business’s success to a single market is a risky game to play. Globalization gives companies the ability to hedge their bets in testing out emerging markets. If, for one reason or another, things don’t work out in a given region, it’s possible that it wouldn’t make or break your business.
If you’re wondering how companies looking to go global can maximize the ROI of their expansion efforts, data shows that providing a stellar customer experience continues to be the bedrock of any successful business. Research from Qualtrics found that “a modest improvement in CX generates an average revenue increase of 775 million dollars over three years for a company with 1 billion dollars in annual revenues.”
Translation services such as AI machine translation technology are a proven method for satisfying your customers across the world. Last year, a study by Common Sense Advisory discovered that 75% of global consumers want product information in their native language, and over half will avoid websites that have English-only communications.
Attract new investors
Successfully breaking into new markets and spreading brand awareness can also be an effective way to gain attention from prominent global investors. Aside from the obvious benefit of providing financial support for your expansion, forming partnerships with international business leaders has the potential to generate additional meaningful connections around the world. An investor who’s especially interested in your company might introduce you to people who can help guide your journey or make recommendations about accessing new markets.
As technology continues to dissolve barriers across the modern business world, the prospect of globalization is more achievable than ever. Our vision of a collaborative global marketplace is one where every company is able to function at the level of a multinational powerhouse. A LangOps approach makes language an asset rather than an obstacle. Every year seems to bring an exciting new development that enables international businesses to do more with less. With so much potential on the horizon, the biggest question is, “What’s next?”