Author: Martyn Swann, Global Head of SME Distribution, AXA – Global Healthcare
Starting a business abroad or expanding your business overseas is a goal for many, and it can be an overwhelming experience with challenges to overcome along the way. Ultimately, however, setting up a business abroad can have huge benefits for organisations of all sizes.
If you’re planning on growing your business abroad like we have done over the years at AXA – Global Healthcare, having people on the ground is a game-changer. We know that in an increasingly digital world, spurred on by the Covid-19 pandemic, remote working only continues to grow in popularity, but there’s still a lot to be said about the importance and relevance of face-to-face interaction.
In fact, when it comes to business, having a local presence and the ability to foster a tangible, positive relationship can be the difference between winning and losing business.
Local representatives can, and should, make the most of their close proximity to prospective customers or clients. Building trust with your customers could bring more opportunities. This is especially important if you’re in a market where you’re selling goods or a service proposition: being present will increase your success and conversion ratio – think greater traction, greater sales, greater retention – all because of valuable face-to-face conversations with your prospects, partners and local representatives.
So, how can businesses grasp these opportunities and make the most of having a small team of staff abroad?
Companies could consider sending a few members of staff out to a new location, who could then also scout out the best local expertise for the job. It’s all about bringing together a globally mobile team, with existing expertise and fresh local perspective – the best of both worlds. At AXA – Global Healthcare we adopted this approach in Southern Europe over ten years ago. And in the last five years, we’ve opened an office in Dublin and developed a team in Asia who are going from strength to strength.
This additional level of diversity offers growth opportunities in both personal and professional capacities – staff will account for a wider range of life experiences and views, with locals able to offer their expertise on the country and its customs, while existing employees hold vital expertise on the business itself.
The recent rise in the ‘work from anywhere’ mindset provides another great option for businesses wanting to expand, giving employers access to an even larger pool of talent. Having remote workers from all over the world coming together in one location can bring a host of new networks to your business, building potential for new customers or clients.
Properly supporting remote workers can be challenging. From the practicalities of working remotely, such as time zone differences and language barriers, to the practicalities of the job itself, like project management, payroll and training, there’s a lot to think about.
As managers, we must always ensure that an efficient, effective training and integration process is in place for new remote employees, as well as providing comprehensive benefits, including IPMI, which can support moving between global branches to boost employee satisfaction and retention.
Expanding abroad is a complex but exciting process and it’s important that businesses aren’t put off from taking that step because they believe that their organisation isn’t large enough.
As a business, expanding abroad might just be what you need – if it’s done in the right way, a strategic overseas expansion can bring fantastic business opportunities, more flexibility, better networks, which can all contribute to the successful growth of your business.