Going global is a potentially critical strategy for enterprises looking to grow. With continued advances in communications and connectivity (including seamless forwarding numbers technology), the possibility of global expansion has become not only feasible, but, for many US businesses, a necessity. Certainly, there are countless factors to consider when making a decision of this magnitude, particularly fiscal responsibilities to multiple stakeholders. But, when growth is both necessary and desirable,  determining strategies for growth should become second-nature to entrepreneurs.

 

The question to consider thus becomes, how to organize these many factors into a plan of action that will allow achievable and sustainable growth? In other words, how to predict possible scenarios and outcomes? For this, a feasibility study helps you determine whether global expansion plans (however framed) will indeed succeed.

 

Feasibility studies, previously limited to companies with an army of R&D specialists at their disposal, are becoming more ubiquitous these days. And, while the hard data and economic forecasting must remain the purview of economists, it is crucial for all decision-makers to undertake a feasibility study as a tool for growth.

 

What is a Feasibility Study?

 

A feasibility study is an evaluation and analysis of the potential of a proposed project, largely based on extensive investigation and research in order to ensure the project’s viability. Feasibility studies aim to objectively and rationally uncover the strengths and weaknesses of an existing business or proposed venture, opportunities and threats present in the environment, the resources required to carry through, and ultimately the prospects for success.  In short, a feasibility study is an investigation into the prospects for a business venture. The feasibility study focuses on helping answer the essential question: “Should we proceed with the proposed project idea?” All activities of the study are directed toward answering this question.

 

Critical Elements

 

The critical elements that any business expansion feasibility study should address include:

 

  • Size of the market. Is the demand in a specific market for your product large enough to act as an incentive to enter?
  • Are there significant barriers to entry? Are there regulatory issues that make the cost of entry prohibitive? Is the market easily accessible for transport? Do the channels of distribution add too many layers and make the price non-competitive?
  • What is the competition? How many other companies sell similar products and with what amount of success? How skilled are local distributors in penetrating the market?
  • Product/service localization issues. Is your product or service primed to sell as is or do you need to invest in localizing it for local tastes?
  • Business infrastructure. Is there a sufficient business infrastructure to support sale and distribution of your product and/or services? Are there good port facilities? How are the highways? Is there easy access by air? What kind of telecommunication infrastructure is available?
  • Political risk. Is the government stable? Is there unrest there because of income distribution inequities or other similar factors? Is the government friendly to our country?
  • Banking and financial institutions. Is the central bank stable? Does it have a history of measured behavior or does it intervene often? Are currency rates stable or fluctuating within a reasonably small range? Are local banks trustworthy enough and capable enough to handle letter of credit transactions or documentary drafts? 

 

Gathering Data

 

The first and most important question you must answer is whether local consumers in the target market want to buy and can afford to buy your products or services and if you can you sell them at a competitive price. It’s irrelevant that you sell the highest quality products or services if target consumers simply don’t have sufficient purchasing power to buy them. Analyze a market’s consumers, demographics, and competitive landscape. Understand your own cost structures in the foreign markets. How you decide to go about analyzing foreign markets will depend in large part upon your reason for going global. It is important to recognize that your company has to develop a unique design based upon its specific goals and more importantly, its budget and existing capacity.

 

It is also important to research potential barriers to entry in the target market, including “soft barriers” such as language and culture, and more business-centric ones such as transport and logistics costs. You might consider the possibility of partnering with knowledgeable local partners and suppliers who better understand how to overcome this challenge while maximizing business opportunities. Gain a thorough understanding of the target market’s legal and regulatory structure especially as it relates to your company’s products or services.

 

The bulk of the analysis lies in gathering the data first and then understanding how this data is relevant to your company’s specific goals and its circumstances. The largest compiler of data about foreign markets in the world is the U.S. Department of Commerce. Some of this information is available free and some involves paying a small fee. Other federal agencies also provide significant amounts of data that is available on their websites. There are also private agencies both here and abroad that collect and disseminate market analysis and other important data about foreign markets. Such groups as industry & trade organizations, local chambers of commerce and other business development groups provide a wealth of information about foreign markets.

 

Forwarding Numbers

Predictive Analytics

 

One of the most difficult decisions is determining the ways to measure, the best metrics to measure and how to measure those metrics to increase confidence in your analysis. Significant technological advances in predictive modeling may help with these decisions. In the age of big data, demanding customer expectations, and increasingly aggressive competitors, solutions that provide an accurate picture of the present and a prediction of future trends (foresight) are becoming possible.

 

Predictive analytics is made up of predictive modeling and forecasting. Predictive modeling aims to address the who, when, and why questions for business issues, such as those related to customer behavior, product usage, and likelihood to purchase.

 

Questions we can answer with predictive models include:

 

  • Which of my existing customers will turn to the competition?
  • Why will my existing customers leave?
  • When will my customers leave? 

 

Forecasting will generally provide answers to questions such as:

  • How many customers will you lose in the next 6 months to competition?
  • How many people will be affected with a certain pandemic disease in the next 12 months in a given country?
  • What are the expected liabilities from incurred, but not reported, insurance claims? 

 

Predictive analytics is one of the most powerful approaches that companies can use to compete and win with analytics.

 

Forwarding Numbers

 

Managing Data Collection Infrastructures: Forwarding Numbers

 

Global expansion requires extensive surveying, data collection, and information gathering much of which cannot simply be found online. If you choose to use agencies abroad to collect information you may want to consider a call forwarding technology that will allow you to remain in contact with the sources of information on the ground. Innovations in telephony now allow you to forward to multiple phone lines, to forward faxes to a fax machine of your choice, and to re-program your number to forward automatically. The ability to gather the right kind of data to make faster and more informed decisions is a critical component of expanding globally and call forwarding is one way to manage the process.