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6 Signs Your Business is Ready for International Expansion

If you're outgrowing your current market, it might be time to explore business expansion. Discover six clear signs you're ready to make your next big move.

Staying ahead in business often means looking beyond your local market. International expansion might seem like an ambitious step, but if it’s in the cards for your company, there’s no time to waste.

Wondering when to make your big move? It might be sooner than you think. There are some clear signs that your business might be ready to embark on this exciting journey.

At Waterloo EDC, we talk to companies during all stages of international growth. Drawing on our experience helping some of the world’s top brands expand to Waterloo, Canada, we’ve compiled six signs that your business might be headed for its next stage of growth.

1. You’re under pressure to grow – fast

If you’re under pressure to scale up quickly – whether due to market dynamics or investor expectations – setting up a new office in a different country can be a decisive and strategic move. It’s a bold, tangible statement about your commitment to innovate and grow.

By expanding internationally, you’ll have more than just a new workspace. You’ll have access to new customers, new talent and new resources that will give your company – and your stakeholders – a fresh outlook on what’s to come in the years ahead.

2. Costs are limiting your growth

Growth is about getting value out of your investments. Higher-cost areas like San Francisco or New York have their benefits, but they can break the bank, too. If your company is looking to benefit from cost savings in office space, labour, logistics or R&D – without sacrificing quality – It might be time to explore markets that can yield higher returns.

Mid-sized markets like Waterloo, for example, offer lower talent and operational costs compared to larger cities, making it an ideal location for businesses that want to do more for less.

3. Your local talent market is tapped out

Innovation and growth are often fueled by talent. If your business is struggling to find the right people locally, tapping into a new talent pool could be the solution. A new location offers access to new talent – from seasoned professionals to recent graduates with fresh perspectives.

You can also take advantage of business immigration programs, like those in Canada, that help companies attract and retain top global talent quickly, without all the hassle of US programs.

In fact, Canadian immigration programs offer a pathway for transferring international employees residing in the US to a more predictable work permit in Canada, ensuring they can stay with your company longer.

4. Continued competitiveness means innovation – not just sales

Not every expansion is about sales or marketing or new markets. In fact, the majority of the new investments into Waterloo are about innovation – creating offices that a) tap into local research strengths and b) leverage local R&D-centric talent.

What does that look like? Sometimes it starts with a research agreement with the local university, but often these offices are built around local leaders with a clear record of innovation and – importantly – building innovative, research-driven teams.

The initial outlay might be low, but the payoff – an innovative new product – could transform your business.

5. You want to break into a new market

Expansion can unlock new revenue streams, improve logistics and provide access to new customers and partners. Diversification is key to longevity, especially if your local market is becoming saturated. If broader reach and stronger relationships equate to incremental growth for your company, then exploring a new location could be the answer.

Just ask Meta IT, a leading digital transformation services provider that expanded to Waterloo because of its reputation for innovation. In just months, they secured an impressive list of new clients, including Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), Kraft Heinz and SAP.

6. You’re looking for an ecosystem that reflects your aspirations

Expanding to a location that’s known for being a leading hub or cluster in your industry can open up a world of possibilities. It can open doors to new research, networking and commercialization opportunities that might not be available elsewhere. And if you’re not there, your competitors could be.

Hubs like Communitech, Velocity and Accelerator Centre in Waterloo Region, for example, offer invaluable support for companies at various stages of growth and innovation. They provide resources, mentorship and connections that can help companies expand their market reach globally.

Your signs may be different

If your goals are different from the ones on this list, it doesn’t mean you’re not ready to expand. These are just the most common ones we see when working with our clients.

Our market development managers are well-equipped to help you identify the signs and avoid common pitfalls – even in the early stages of the expansion process. Get in touch with our team today.

Your partner in business expansion

As you consider these six signs, remember that you’re not alone. Organizations like Waterloo EDC exist to help companies like yours recognize the signs of expansion readiness.

More importantly, we can be your guide as you navigate the expansion journey – from narrowing down potential sites to recruiting top talent to taking advantage of tax credits and incentives.

We’ve done it all before – for clients like Google, Toyota, Bosch and more – so we can help navigate the unknowns and point you to the people and resources that can contribute to a smooth expansion.

Even if Waterloo doesn’t end up on your shortlist, we’re still happy to have a conversation – and we’ll be here if you decide to explore our region again someday.

Let’s see what’s possible

Schedule a consultation with Waterloo EDC to explore your international expansion potential.