It has been more than four decades since my first overseas assignments in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Since then, I have encountered numerous political, economic, and natural crises around the world. None at the level of disruption that the current COVID-19 pandemic has had. Nor did any of these events cause as much global change to consumer trends, political upset, economic turmoil, company changes or supply chain disruption. 

To move forward with the expansion of your business into other countries in 2022, it is essential to consider the collective impact of all this disruption and its resulting changes to how global business can be done successfully. The good news is that consumer demand and spending have never been at a higher level around the world. The challenge is to focus your limited resources on the countries that have the highest potential return on your global business development investment.

What follows is a list of strategies to help with global business expansion, even in the extremely unprecedented times we are currently facing. 

Place immense care on where you plan to take your business. 

It has always been crucial to carefully choose which countries are optimal for new business ventures for your specific company and brand but coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more critical to relook at all markets to understand what has changed in consumer trends and evaluate economic, political and regulatory changes for businesses in a specific country. 

Governments have enacted COVID-19 related policies and changed tax and foreign investment regulations. As in your home country, these changes have occurred at the national, regional and local levels and will not necessarily be the same as what has been implemented in the country you currently do business in.

Consumers worldwide have learned to buy online and have their purchases delivered. This impacts the entire sales process including retail brick-and-mortar locations. While online buying was present before the pandemic, it accelerated and became the norm in more countries over the past year and a half. Consumers can compare product prices and attributes online before making a buying decision. Marketing and product differentiation are much more critical to a business’ success today.

Cultivate your local partners, distributors and licensees wisely. 

It is important to increase the amount of due diligence when selecting partners because COVID has changed the structure, viability and financial status of most companies. It is essential to find out if who you will be doing business with has the infrastructure and financial resources you require to succeed in a country. 

Do not depend on just what you are provided by the company that wants to do business with you; seek third-party confirmation. This has always been important but given the mass shutdowns of businesses across the globe during the pandemic, it is even more important in today’s international business climate. Spend the money to be sure about who you do business with.

Be prepared to adapt to local culture and changing environments. 

More than ever, clear differentiation by country is essential for your business and brand to succeed. Sensitivity to local business and consumer culture is also a key component. 

Invest up front to learn whether the products and services your business offers fit the current market and project what will be needed to fit in and make money going forward. Expect menu changes, pricing variations, labeling and packaging adjustments, alternate marketing approaches and different costs to do business than here at home.

Given the supply chain disruptions that we continue to see across the globe, it is absolutely critical to work with your logistics specialist to understand the cost to ship products and the timeline for the shipment to arrive in the target country. 

Have strong senior management commitment and a proactive business plan for entering other countries. 

Taking a business into new countries is not typically an instant topline revenue venture, and there are numerous associated costs such as legal, supply chain, training, support and marketing investments to consider. Going global is a company-changing strategy that takes time and strategic planning. 

Devote ample time for developing a plan that projects expected revenue and expenses over time in each country you plan to enter. Note that the cost of doing business varies widely across the world. Labor, cost of goods sold, rent and utilities will be different from country to country. 

Embrace, invest in and implement technology to manage your global activity. The use of technology allows companies to communicate, monitor and manage operations across many time zones in real time and keep in-country training and support costs down. 

Finally, monitor respected international information sources daily to know what is happening in your target country. 

The one thing you can depend on is change coming out of the pandemic. Today, we have to monitor the flow of goods, trade agreements, local regulatory decisions and cross-border trade diplomacy constantly to be able to predict what to do and where to go to make money when doing business on an international scale. As the authority for U.S. companies doing business globally, the daily update at Global Trade Magazine is an excellent source of what is happening around the world.

Bottom Line: I see more global business opportunity than ever before in my career of covering projects across 50 countries. Ninety-five percent of today’s consumers are outside the United States. Two thirds of the new middle-class consumers will be in Asia. Products and services from western countries are highly regarded in emerging markets. With the proper preparation and constant monitoring, businesses with high-quality products and services can successfully penetrate other countries, even in times like these. While it is not an easy process, it can be done with the right strategy and hard work.


William (Bill) Edwards, CFE is CEO and global advisor at Irvine, California-based Edwards Global Services (EGS). He brings more than four decades of international operations, development, executive and entrepreneurial experience and has lived in seven countries. With experience in the franchise, oil and gas, information technology and management consulting sectors, he has directed projects on-site in Alaska, Asia, Europe and the Middle and Near East. Edwards advises a wide range of companies on early to long term global development of their brands. He can be contacted at +1 949 224 3896 or at [email protected]

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