High rental costs, a manpower crunch and a limited domestic market are challenges that all Singapore businesses battle with. These obstacles, set against the backdrop of Southeast Asia’s healthy growth and potential for the future, make it tempting for F&B entrepreneurs to take the leap into the overseas market.
For those of you who are, here are some things to consider.
Consider the things that can go wrong
Let’s face it, moving your business overseas will not be as easy as a “cut and paste” of your local operations. You may have the benefit of experience and some added wisdom, but there are a whole host of things that you will have to navigate around. Will your existing menu work? Which items should you import to this new operation? Will you be able to find – and manage – employees? Which brings us to the next point…
Consider the power of teamwork
As they say, teamwork makes the dream work. The benefits of overseas expansion are aplenty and you do not need to do it alone. Partners from the market you hope to expand into can help ease the burden of navigating foreign laws and help you better understand the market before entering. Partners can even be other, Singapore-based F&B outlets! There are also a host of government resources that can alleviate the load and give you a foothold in this new market – for instance you can contact RAS for help to move into the Vietnam market – so look around and ask for help!
Consider the cultural barriers in your way
This goes beyond language barriers and time differences to encompass the way people work. Different cultures may have different priorities, expectations and methods for handling conflict. Make the time to build relationships with the locals to understand these differences – do not assume that you are superior or can “pay your way” through – this will go a long way in helping your new business survive in a foreign market.
Consider the future
Unless you intend to live away from Singapore in the long run, it is especially important to have a long-term plan to build your talent pipeline and groom middle management. You may have to get your hands dirty at the start, and it is normal to get caught up with daily fire-fighting, but take the time to build succession and enable progression for your staff. You want the operation to be viable whether you are physically present or not!