No Pain, No Gain: Going global will be difficult, but the rewards can be substantial.

Author:Hortenstein, Jim

Everyone's talking about expanding internationally. It's all over the news and friends in the industry are proudly announcing their own successes. "Going global" seems like the thing to do! But are you really ready?

It's going to be harder than you thought. Expectations must be managed. Ask people who have already expanded outside their home country and they'll all say the same things:

* It will take longer than you want it to.

* It will cost more than you had hoped.

* It will distract resources from your home market.


There are many benefits to expanding internationally. With a broader portfolio of markets, if one is down it's likely that another is doing well. It can prepare your brand for future growth. And, many brands now have more international than domestic locations. What's more, brand-building ideas that originate internationally can help the domestic market. Think of the "McCafe" concept that started in Australia.


To properly prepare for entering international markets or relaunch an existing international business, you should ask yourself a series of questions:

[check] Is your concept proven and profitable? Franchising is all about growing with proven concepts and systems, and a franchisee will expect a good return on his investment. If you don't already have various success stories as examples for prospective franchisees, you're probably not quite ready to think about going global.

[check] Do you have the money?

You'll have many expenses before seeing the first dollar of international revenue. Some of those expenses will be real money, while others will be the opportunity cost of distracting corporate staff from their primary responsibilities. You'll first invest in assigning someone to direct the project, whether it's an employee or an outside consultant. And that person must have international experience--don't cut any corners. That person will begin to draw up a plan that will require time commitments from various groups in the organization and will lead to investments in people to provide direct support. You'll have to register trademarks, adapt agreements and processes, examine product sourcing and figure out many other details.

[check] Are you prepared to plan first? Unfortunately, some franchisors sign an international deal first and then scramble to try to figure out how to implement it. Advance preparation of a formal plan is critical. Some of the key elements of a good plan are the following:


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