Entering a new market is no mean feat and without the right preparation and support it is easy to come up against problems very early on. Left unresolved it becomes very easy to fall into the common failures of international expansion. Here we identify the top five reasons for international expansion failure and how you can prevent them.


It sounds obvious, but not having a firm strategy in place means you won’t have a clear vision, measurable goals or an understanding of the potential costs you could be up against. By analyzing the market and conducting an opportunity assessment, you’ll be able to form a strategy that will identify; your route to market, your potential customers and opportunities, as well as your business risks - which you can create contingency plans for. In a nutshell, a firm strategy will help you enter the marketing with less of the ‘unknown’ and therefore, less risk!



Particularly in the early stages of expansion, budgets can be tight. But if you skimp on talent, you may be saving yourself some cash in the short term, but in the long term you are only causing yourself more harm - as it is likely that those you hired in the early days aren’t going to be able to take you to where you need to be. There is always an element of risk with international expansion, but it’s important to not let people be one of them, particularly when you have the choice to mold your team so that you have the best people around you.


It’s important to ensure you have thoroughly researched the local market and identify any cultural differences. Do not assume everywhere is the same as your domestic market. Even with the US to the UK! This has caused casualties to even the biggest organizations. For example, Best Buy entered the UK market in 2011 with a chain of electronic stores, however due to lack of brand recognition, with many Brits associating ‘Best Buy’ with a discount supermarket (feels like an unfinished sentence?). Best Buy also majorly underestimated on the level of competition, which, as a result, meant that all the stores eventually closed. Effective market research, should identify; local industry trends and forecasts, key players in the markets, market dynamics, culture (customs, traditions, etc.) and any regulations to be aware of. 


This one might sound self-serving, but it really does pay to have local knowledge on the ground to help you through this process. When you enter a new market, it helps to have someone on the ground, with relevant local knowledge, who (most importantly!) understands your business.

However, if you do not personally know someone on the ground, so to speak, it may be worth investing in a high-quality market research firm who will be able to provide you with all the advice you need in your new market space. For example, here at SquareOne, we become your international overseas expansion department, identifying what resources are required in order for your UK or US expansion to be as smooth and successful as possible.



When Tesco (the UK’s largest food retailer) opened its US line of stores ‘Fresh and Easy’ they made some major mistakes. Similarly to Best Buy, they decided to ignore US shopping habits and sell UK sized ready meals, favoured by many Brits as opposed to large bulk items, which research showed US shoppers preferred. The timing was also poorly chosen, as they entered the market at the point the recession hit and consumer spending took a nose dive. This is an extreme case, with one UK publication describing it as ‘taking a leap across the pond and drowning’ but, as they say, ‘timing is everything’.

At SquareOne as part of our service we offer a ‘Start at SquareOne plan’, which documents a plan of action for your company coming to the UK or expanding to the US. Our team of market entry specialists work with your organization to activate your SquareOne plan – stating clear time sensitive goals, expected outputs and the necessary inputs to make the process as smooth as possible.

Exporting to another country is a significant source of growth, but it’s important to remember that it’s a long-term strategy. Expanding to new markets involves adapting to the new country, building new relationships and a reputation - as well as analysing and understanding the dynamics of the local business environment. So be patient!

Find out more about how SquareOne could help you by visiting our website: www.squareone.us.com, emailing us on: hello@squareone.com or for all the latest news and updates follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.