Taking your business global
30 June 2016

With a sluggish local economy, and a restricted domestic market, expansion overseas has become an increasingly enticing option for local businesses. The good news is, businesses do not have to look far for new revenue streams-ASEAN alone opens organisations up to a combined market-worth of US$2.6 trillion.

Furthermore, given that among Singapore’s most successful SMEs, international operations account for 81% of sales1, overseas expansion looks to be a proven way to generate increased revenue and facilitate sustainable growth.

But before taking the leap, it is important to know that the key to successful expansion is timing. Dessert enterprise Xiao Ban’s director Max Yeow ensured that his brand was well established domestically, before extending its reach into Vietnam, where it has since gained huge popularity.

“It is important to plan ahead,” Mr Yeow cautions. “When the domestic market is stable, that's when it's time to look overseas - not wait until you're in a position where you have no choice."

If you are certain that it is the right time to start branching out, here are some of the things you should do before taking that big step.

Grow your business with Google


Now, you’ve made the decision to expand overseas, one of the questions you will ask is “Which market(s) should I enter”? At Go Global, Google’s Global Market finder helps you discover new markets and create a digital export plan for your businesses, facilitating your overseas expansion planning.


Go Global also holds free Google AdWords monthly workshops to equip you with the tools and knowledge to market your business. Google AdWords helps you publicise your business and connect with customers across the globe. To learn more about the benefits and business-boosting techniques of Google AdWords, sign up here.


Kickstart your global Google AdWords campaign with IE Singapore’s Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Get support in a wide range of market entry and pre-scope needs including digital advertising through Google AdWords
  • SMEs can get up to 70% funding of eligible setup and marketing costs
  • Receive up to $20,000 with no more than 2 applications per year
  • For more information, find out more here

Understand your target market and country regulations


In 2008, FIAT released a video of actor Richard Gere driving their newest car model to Tibet. This came at the height of friction between China and Tibet, and was worsened by the fact that Gere was strongly for Tibet gaining autonomy from China. The video thus raised much controversy and protest in China, resulting in a 9% drop in share price.

“The failure to stay informed about current affairs could have a major effect on your business’ success."

Apart from assessing the country’s cultural atmosphere, it is also crucial to ensure that its governmental regulations are conducive for your business. For example, just this April, Myanmar introduced the new Special Goods Tax Law, subjecting a specific list of goods to between 5% and 120% taxation.2


Here are a few key things to look out for when researching your target country and market:

  1. Are there any pressing political and cultural incidents that you need to be aware of?
  2. What were the last foreign companies to enter the market and did they encounter any issues?
  3. Does the government cooperate with foreign businesses and provide a conducive environment for expansion?


Once you are sure that your business is ready for cross-cultural expansion, the next step is acquiring support and resources.


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