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A third of Australian SMBs plan to expand internationally by 2024

A new study reveals one third of Australian small and medium businesses plan to expand internationally in the next two years.

According to the Global Empowerment study by Amazon Australia, trans-Tasman business growth tops the list, with 35 per cent of Australian SMBs already operating or planning to expand into New Zealand.

Expansion into North America comes second, with 21 per cent of businesses operating or hoping to expand to the region. Other countries strongly considered for global expansion include the United Kingdom (14 per cent), Singapore (9 per cent), and Japan (7 per cent).

The survey found a desire to increase revenue and expand the customer base to be key motivators towards international growth, along with future-proofing the business and seeking a personal sense of achievement.

Of the 1,003 Australian SMBs that participated in the survey, 96 per cent revealed they have no regrets about expanding internationally. Over 80 per cent wish they’d expanded sooner.

However, while international expansion remains an exciting prospect for businesses, there are barriers to entry and challenges in operating in unfamiliar markets. More than one in four Australian SMBs noted they require additional tools and knowledge to expand globally on their own.

Almost 30 per cent felt they needed support towards cost-effective shipping and international marketing. Around 23 per cent sought mentorship.

More than 32 per cent wanted assistance with local taxation advice and navigating local legal and compliance requirements.

According to Amit Mahto, Head of Amazon Marketplace Australia, this is where e-commerce platforms like Amazon can support global ambitions. Recent figures indicate more than 11,000 Australian businesses sell through Amazon.

“Australian small and medium business owners are creative, innovative, and ambitious,” Mr Mahto said. “In our seller community alone, we see some incredible businesses owners growing and reaching new customers with their products. We believe Australian SMBs have a lot to offer the world.”

“Some of the sellers we work with choose to build their business locally before embarking on global expansion. Others may choose to sell globally from the beginning. We know from our research that many small business owners are thinking about this and we’re ready to help support them to build and grow their businesses.”

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A third of Australian SMBs plan to expand internationally by 2024
Source: Lucas van Oort on Unsplash

Is your business ready to go global?

While international expansion can be enticing, there are some key factors to consider before taking the plunge.

Mr. Mahto said, “From our research, we know there are some key obstacles [businesses] need to work through before they get started. Business owners need to understand their opportunity and what is required. They need to look at where they can sell, what they want to sell to overseas customers, how to price their products and how to build their listings.”

Here are some important questions to ask when considering international expansion:

  •  How has the business scaled in the last three to five years? Will further growth hinder operations or provide the chance to tap into new markets? It’s an opportunity to take stock of your business capacity to evaluate if you are, in fact, underutilising your resources.
  • Is there international interest in your business? From website traffic to direct inquiries, are international clients showing active interest in your goods or services?
  • Do you feel confident in your ability to execute an international business plan? Are you informed on local markets or have experts to assist in your decision-making? Do you have trusted employees in these regions?
  • Often, logistics can be a considerable challenge in the early days of international expansion. Are you familiar with your overseas suppliers and clients? Do you have a plan for international transactions?
  • Most importantly, do you feel confident in your ability to carry this forward?

READ ALSO: Supply chain chaos? How businesses can build resilience

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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