Every year the world becomes a smaller place. Obviously not in size – though certainly in scope, as technology allows people to connect across borders like never before. With this new connectivity in recent years, doors have opened for aviation business owners around the globe to expand into previously unreached markets.
In addition, general aviation (GA) and business aviation companies are paving the way for other industries to reach these new markets. And, while many countries have become friendlier, even inclined toward business aviation, international operations still involve a high degree of bureaucracy and idiosyncrasies.
In spite of the challenges, air travel is increasing worldwide.
Many countries are experiencing an increase in GA traffic as today’s global business leaders recognize they cannot reach new markets effectively with commercial transportation. In fact, top performing companies in the world rely on business aviation. According to the Forbes Global 2000, 88 percent of the world’s top 50 companies operate business aircraft.
Prior to launching your GA business across the pond, consider these best practices, from an international business development expert. Doing so could save you from stalling on takeoff.
1. Do Your Due Diligence with an Around the World Briefing.
Planning is paramount to success. Just like a pilot planning a flight, before doing anything else, it’s important to gather all kinds of information to aid in charting your course. In the international arena, many things change – often rapidly – regarding the regulatory environment, certification processes, documentation, customs and security risks. An around the world briefing is equivalent to a thorough market research where you’ll learn everything you need to know to make a go, no-go decision. It’s important to consult with a team of international development professionals who understand markets, cultures and business practices around the globe.
2. Aviation Business Risk Mitigation.
Before leaving the safety and comfort of your office, it’s important to understand the operational risks associated with opening shop abroad. Rules vary from country to country, and they’re often left to local interpretation. Problems can arise when you least expect it, so it’s important to partner with an experienced team and connect with all available local resources. Some operational “gotchas” to consider include visa requirements, security threats and weather issues. Even once you’ve launched, it will be essential to remain aware of rule changes within your country of operation. Trade agreements can change quickly leaving you scrambling if customs confiscates a critical shipment or executives are detained for improper paperwork. Last minute rule changes can triple your operating costs if hit with extra fees or fines for not following proper protocols or satisfying government audits.
3. Define your Business Plan for Accessing Global Markets.
An international business plan is essential to map out your company’s present status, expansion goals, and commitment. It’s also necessary for measuring results. Your plan should include a long-term vision to maximize opportunities for future growth. If you’re new to globalization, it’s best to work with a team experienced in developing international business plans.
4. Plan at Least 2 Years for World Market Penetration.
The length of time it takes to open a business in another country depends on many variables including the company, its product and services, the scope of the project and the countries involved – to name a few. International expansion is a big step, and global business operations are complicated and expensive. You should never rush the process. It takes time and patience to build a successful, global enterprise, so be patient and plan for the long haul.
5. Explore Culture-Specific Information.
Marketing, business practices and professional courtesies vary significantly across countries and cultures. It’s critical to your brand that the target audience understands and appreciates your marketing campaigns. What appeals in one may be considered offensive in another. To help you avoid mistakes that could damage your image it’s important to work with an experienced team. A team that has a global mindset, yet knows how to act as a local when opening new markets.
6. Investigate International Business Travel Tips.
The practical aspects of conducting business around the world can make or break your success. In preparing to go boldly where you’ve never gone before, plan accordingly. There’s a lot to pay attention to and the details can become disorienting. If you’re blessed to travel on a business aircraft, you’ll enjoy the benefit of arriving rested and ready for work. If however, you must -for a time- travel commercially, well, just do your best to avoid a middle seat at the back of the airplane. You know, the one that doesn’t recline and is sandwiched between a misaligned window and the toilet. Oh, and take along your own peanuts. Either way, it pays to get some international travel tips to help you arrive rested.
7. Enjoy the Journey.
International expansion can be exciting; sure, it comes with inherent challenges, but what doesn’t. Your business is gaining altitude, and blue skies are ahead. Strap in and enjoy the ride. Moreover, never forget the most important and valuable business asset you have is you and your people. The human touch is even more precious as the world shrinks in our age of advanced technology.
Despite all the regulatory and operational challenges involved in global expansion, there’s still no better way to grow your general aviation business in today’s global economy. So whether you want to open a manufacturing facility in China or develop an airport in Burma, the journey begins with a consultation. With a multi-cultural experienced team on your side, one with established relationships and strong global connections, the sky’s the limit.
To learn how Blue Sky Innovations can help you take your general aviation business global give us a call and we’ll schedule a consultation. We can help you connect with the right markets and create growth opportunities.
Tim Archer is a 40-year veteran of the general aviation industry and founder of Blue Sky Innovations Group. He has worked in more than 50 countries doing GA international business development, sales and marketing, manufacturing management and acquisition due diligence.