If thinking outside of the box is essential from a business point of view, then one way of looking at business differently is to take more of an international view and consider whether trade opportunities are being missed by focusing solely on traditional markets.
The business sector is more international than it has ever been, owing to the development of the internet and the opening up of emerging markets as a result of trade liberalisation and various international trade agreements. As such, UK entrepreneurs have an opportunity to tap into trade opportunities in such regions as South America and Africa. However, understanding the potential of the international market is vital if businesses are to succeed. Not only do business owners need to recognize which markets represent the best opportunity for them from an investment perspective, but they also need to take account of how business is conducted in socio-economic environments different to that at home and to adapt themselves accordingly.
The internet has not only opened up international communications, making the world seem a smaller place, but it also represents a business opportunity in itself and perhaps even a testing ground for businesses reluctant to commit to establishing an actual overseas presence in terms of a marketing and sales structure. Internet marketplaces are a good starting point because the business does not even require its own website to begin selling to overseas markets. A big mistake, however, is to assume that the internet is some kind of universal platform, where local differences can be overlooked. Business owners would not travel overseas to market their business without first taking into account the language of the country they are visiting or without pricing their goods and services in the local currency, allied with local language customer service. The same rules apply to internet selling.
The opening up of Africa to international trade is exemplified by the Seychelles, the Indian Ocean archipelago. The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom reports that the Seychelles has recorded the fourth best record for advances in economic freedom in the past five years, thanks to a policy of monetary stabilization and strong reforms in the area of trade. Tourism is a particularly strong sector within the Seychelles economy and presents opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs, including those from the UK, looking to tap into the overall economic growth of the country.
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas has spotted the potential of the Seychelles and is planning its first resort in the country on the private island of Félicité. Advice on developing the resort has come from Mukesh Valabhji of Capital Management Group, an example of a local entrepreneur made good. He previously headed up the Seychelles Marketing Board and spent time as an economic advisor to the president. Six Senses has recognized the benefit that comes from tapping into local experience and using the wisdom of someone with in-depth knowledge of the local market to ensure that it gets things right.
Developing business connections and client bases in emerging markets can be very rewarding, but entrepreneurs need to do their homework first. Such is the level of competition internationally that a business may have only a small window in which to prove itself to overseas customers before they decide whether to take their business elsewhere.