Biz Features

Small Business Owners: Is Your Business Ready to Expand into Another Market?

by . January 23rd, 2015

By Robert Conrad

Robert Conrad is a former Business student who graduated with a 3.91 GPA. He specialized in marketing and research and has over 10 years of managerial and training experience.

Let’s face it: expansion is expensive and risky.  For small business owners who are considering expanding their operations into a new and different market, it can seem like an impossible and potentially disastrous venture.

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However, if thoroughly researched beforehand, it can transform your small business into a global juggernaut.  Whether you’re selling a new type of cat toy or a simple, yet necessary item like toilet paper, it can happen as long as you effectively prepare.

From Mom n’ Pops to International Icons: Real world examples

Some examples of businesses that have expanded into foreign markets successfully include Imprint Plus, Buffalo Wild Wings and McDonald’s.  Imprint Plus, a Canadian name badge producer, successfully expanded into the United States, but only after they had already determined that they had a strong customer base there already.

Imprint Plus also modified their product to be scaled depending on the size of the customer’s business.  This new product allowed them to be more relevant to other businesses of varying sizes and thus, help them gain a global audience.

As for Buffalo Wild Wings, a chain restaurant, they were able to successfully integrate into a foreign market.  When they expanded their business into Canada from the United States, they hired local workers who informed them of cultural differences and what products would sell best in their new Canadian locations.

As a result, Buffalo Wild Wings benefited from the insight of their local Canadian workers and make the appropriate adjustments.  Since then, the practice has been the norm as they increase their expansion efforts into other markets.

Finally, McDonald’s was able to expand outside of the United States to become one of the most visible brands the world has ever seen.  What started out as a one-off “burger shack” started by the McDonald brothers became a cultural and global phenomenon due to the efforts of Ray Kroc.  Kroc opened the first franchised McDonald’s restaurant in 1955 and later purchased the brothers’ stake in the company.

Later, in 1967, expansion efforts into foreign markets began with restaurants opening in Puerto Rico and Canada.  Barring any arguments of corporate responsibility and ethics, McDonald’s was able to successfully position themselves as a leader in multicultural expansion.

How did it happen?

So how were these three companies able to successfully expand?  It wasn’t done through having an unlimited marketing budget or any unscrupulous means, but rather practicing three simple ideals: expanding into a market where your brand is known already, hire locally to gain insight into the new local market, and customize your products to meet local demands.

Considering the relatively small and humble beginnings of all three of these businesses, even a simple concept can successfully branch out into a global market with the right approach.  Other companies that started relatively small include Google, HP, and Apple Inc.  Even though many of these startups had humble beginnings, they were able to identify a market need and modify their product or approach to meet that need.


Even if you are currently not considering international expansion at this time, there are many lessons that can be taken away from the examples presented above.  Hardly anyone can refute the importance of market research and businesses that effectively practice it benefit from improved local support.

Remember: hire locally, pay attention to constructive feedback from your employees, and modify your approach to match your target audience based off of that feedback to ensure your company’s sustainability.

About the author

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Robert Conrad is a former Business student who graduated with a 3.91 GPA. He specialized in marketing and research and has over 10 years of managerial and training experience.

These days, he is a mentor for at-risk youth and assists various individuals with increasing their social media presence.  When he’s off the clock, Robert enjoys visiting the ocean, visiting new restaurants and playing video games. 

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We are not affiliated with any of the products or services mentioned. Images are author’s own, via Creative Commons, or Public Domain unless specified. Author’s opinions are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of