Scale Business Overseas as part of your long-term plan. Here’s an opportunity to learn from an entrepreneur who grew an Irish company into a global operation in just a few years.

Andrew Mackin, of environmental health and safety specialists Mackin Consultancy, took part in a video interview in our Belfast studio.

The entrepreneurial spirit craves growth, and for many ambitious businesses, the next horizon beckons across the ocean. Scaling your business overseas holds the potential for explosive expansion, opening doors to new markets, diverse talent pools, and boundless opportunities. Imagine your products or services captivating audiences in vibrant metropolises across the globe, your brand etched on the map of international success. This is the thrilling, yet intricate, adventure of international expansion.

But before setting sail, let’s chart the potential riches awaiting you on this global voyage. Buckle up, fellow explorers, as we delve into the exciting landscape of overseas growth:

Exponential Market Reach: Domestic markets, however promising, have inherent limitations. Expanding overseas grants you access to vast new customer bases, multiplying your potential audience and revenue streams. Imagine tapping into the burgeoning middle class of China, the tech-savvy population of India, or the untapped potential of emerging African markets. The global consumer landscape becomes your playground, brimming with diverse needs and eager to embrace your innovative offerings.

How To Scale a Business? Expanding Overseas and Business Growth with Andrew Mackin

Diversification and Resilience: Relying solely on a single market exposes your business to economic fluctuations and regional trends. By venturing into new territories, you diversify your income streams, mitigating risk and strengthening your overall financial stability. A dip in one market can be balanced by the thriving performance of another, creating a resilient business empire that transcends borders.

Talent Acquisition and Innovation: The global talent pool is your oyster. Overseas expansion allows you to recruit from a wider pool of skilled professionals, tapping into unique expertise and diverse perspectives. You gain access to innovative minds in tech hubs like Singapore or research powerhouses like Germany, fostering cross-cultural collaboration and propelling your business towards cutting-edge solutions.

Brand Recognition and Global Image: Stepping onto the international stage elevates your brand perception. Your business transcends its local roots, acquiring a global aura of sophistication and reliability. This enhances your competitive edge, attracting investors, partners, and customers seeking high-quality products and services with a global footprint.

Personal Growth and Fulfillment: Scaling your business overseas is not just about financial rewards; it’s a journey of personal and professional growth. You navigate new cultures, overcome logistical challenges, and adapt to unfamiliar business environments. This crucible of experience hones your leadership skills, expands your strategic thinking, and imbues you with a broader, global perspective – invaluable assets for any entrepreneur.

The potential benefits of venturing overseas are vast and enticing. Yet, this exciting journey requires careful planning, strategic execution, and a thirst for cultural understanding. In the chapters ahead, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to navigate the complexities of international expansion, turning your global aspirations into a reality. So, are you ready to set sail on your entrepreneurial odyssey? Let’s chart your course towards international success, together!

How to scale a business? expanding overseas and business growth with andrew mackin

How To Scale Business Overseas

He outlined the company’s journey “from a one man operation to having over 85 people globally” by, firstly, explaining his own career path.

“I’m originally from Dundalk and left school at 17, without finishing my Leaving Certificate, as it was a bleak time in the eighties and a case of ‘dig in and lend a hand to help out’.

“I got into the Navy and headed off to Cork in 1985. I was working in Torquay in England at the time and got the phone call so I had to pack my bag on a Friday and back for the Monday.

“It was a fantastic experience and I ended up doing 21 years in the Navy. Prior to the Navy I always wanted to be an electrician, and I had applied to all the factories at the time, but after a year and a half in the Navy I had an opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship within the Defence Forces.

“I got involved with the Representative Association in the Defence Forces and that gave me an inkling into health and safety. I was the Assistant National Health and Safety Officer but had no qualification for it, it’s an honorary position really but people would still ring you looking for advice.

“I thought it would be a good idea to go back to college and really enjoyed it as doing health and safety in the Defence Forces meant you were looking at things from an unusual angle.”

With a 2006 retirement date fast approaching Andrew began to set up his business.

“Guys that I knew in the Navy who had gone on to set up their own businesses, such as electricians I had worked with, would ask me to take a look at a Safety Statement or a Safety Policy or a Risk Assessment and it trickled on.

“When it was time to sign off we probably had 10 or 12 clients. I wasn’t flat out but I had enough to say ‘we have a business here’.”

A large contract in 2009 with a well-known multinational gave Mackin Consultancy the beginnings of its global reach.

“We started off in Ireland, then auditing businesses across Europe and that gave us great profile. People would say ‘well, if you’re good enough to work for them we might have you work for us’.

“Guys that I worked with on different teams would move to different companies and if you have built up a good relationship with them in terms of being easy to work with and producing the goods they are happy to give you a shot with them there as well.”

The Mackin Consultancy story, ten years later, is one of “massive growth”.

“We’ve an office in London, we’ve an office in California and we’ve an office in North Carolina.

“A lot of that would have been project resourcing, someone would have come to us and said ‘we need a Health and Safety Consultant for a two year project’.

“When you work with a lot of these multinationals it is a case of them knowing you are primarily in the health and safety business but if they are looking for a Lab Technician or a facilities guy you’re in the system so it is easy for them to utilise you rather than look for a new vendor.”

Discover much more about Andrew Mackin’s journey to success with Mackin Consultancy by watching our full Business Leaders video interview.

Understanding the Target Market: Key to Conquering Global Landscapes

Expanding your business overseas is akin to planting a seed in foreign soil. Just as a gardener meticulously analyzes the climate, soil conditions, and local flora before sowing, so too must you delve deep into the target market before venturing abroad. Understanding your audience on a granular level is the bedrock of a successful international expansion. Let’s explore the crucial aspects of navigating this critical stage:

In-Depth Market Research: Demystifying Demand Dynamics

Thorough market research is your Rosetta Stone to unlock the mysteries of your target audience. Go beyond superficial data:

  • Consumer Behavior: Analyze purchasing habits, brand preferences, and cultural attitudes towards your product or service. Understand existing competition and identify underserved niches.
  • Economic Trends: Assess market size, growth potential, and economic stability. Analyze relevant indicators like GDP, disposable income, and inflation to gauge consumer spending power.
  • Regulatory Landscape: Familiarize yourself with legal and regulatory frameworks, import/export restrictions, and intellectual property laws in your target market.

Tools like industry reports, surveys, and focus groups can provide valuable insights. Utilize online resources, government data, and collaborate with local partners to paint a comprehensive picture of the market dynamics.

Adapting Products for Localization: Speaking the Language of Your Audience

Your product, however brilliant, might require adjustments to resonate with a new audience. Localization is not just about translation; it’s about cultural nuance:

  • Language and Branding: Adapt marketing materials, product labels, and brand messaging to resonate with the local language and cultural sensitivities. Consider humor, wordplay, and visual cues that might have different connotations in different cultures.
  • Product Features and Functionality: Modify product features or specifications to suit local preferences and regulations. Adapt packaging to comply with environmental regulations or cater to space constraints in homes.
  • Pricing and Payment Methods: Research preferred payment methods in your target market and offer local currency options. Tailor pricing strategies to align with local purchasing power and avoid perceived overpricing.

Remember, the goal is to make your product feel native, not foreign. Respect local preferences while maintaining your brand identity, creating a seamless and culturally relevant experience for your new audience.

Modifying Operations for Cultural Nuances: Building Bridges, Not Walls

Cultural differences go beyond language; they permeate business practices, communication styles, and even everyday interactions. Be ready to adapt your operations to navigate these nuances:

  • Sales and Marketing Strategies: Tailor your marketing channels and outreach methods to suit local media consumption habits and social media platforms. Respect local customs and etiquette in sales interactions, developing communication styles that resonate with your audience.
  • Building Relationships: Understand the importance of personal connections and relationship building in certain cultures. Invest time in fostering genuine relationships with local partners, vendors, and customers.
  • Hiring and Management: Adapt your recruitment strategies and employee management practices to comply with local labor laws and cultural expectations. Be mindful of communication styles, decision-making processes, and leadership expectations.

Embracing cultural sensitivity and flexibility are essential for building trust and establishing a sustainable presence in your target market. Remember, local knowledge is key; leverage partnerships with local experts to navigate the cultural landscape and avoid potential pitfalls.

Evaluating Expansion Locations: Navigating the Global Map

Choosing the right location for your international expansion is akin to selecting the perfect plot for your entrepreneurial empire. A strategic decision, this choice determines the initial terrain you conquer, the resources you access, and the potential obstacles you might face. Let’s explore the crucial factors to consider while navigating the global map:

Weighing Variables: A Balancing Act of Market Size, Business Climate, and Risks

Each potential location presents a unique tapestry of opportunities and challenges. Weighing these variables carefully is paramount:

  • Market Size and Growth Potential: Analyze the target market’s size, growth trajectory, and projected future demographics. Consider the saturation level of your industry and identify under-served niches. Prioritize markets with sizable audience potential and promising growth curves.
  • Business Climate and Infrastructure: Assess the political stability, economic environment, and legal framework of your target locations. Evaluate factors like tax regulations, transparency, intellectual property protection, and access to essential infrastructure like logistics and communication networks.
  • Risks and Mitigating Strategies: No venture is devoid of risk. Analyze potential risks like cultural barriers, currency fluctuations, political instability, and operational challenges. Develop contingency plans and risk mitigation strategies to navigate these hurdles effectively.

Prioritizing Entry: Balancing Ease of Entry and Growth Potential

While some locations may boast larger markets and higher growth potential, their complexity of entry or operational constraints might pose significant hurdles. Consider these factors:

  • Ease of Entry: Prioritize locations with less stringent regulations, simpler visa processes, and established frameworks for foreign investment. This minimizes initial hurdles and facilitates a smoother, faster entry.
  • Cultural Similarity and Language Barriers: Consider the cultural proximity of your target market. Locations with similar cultural norms and values can ease communication and facilitate smoother integration. Assess language barriers and prioritize markets where English or your native language has some level of penetration.
  • Existing Partnerships and Networks: Leverage existing partnerships, networks, and distributors in your target locations. This can significantly reduce upfront investments, provide local market knowledge, and accelerate your entry and growth.

Regional Hubs: Simplifying Complexity, Maximizing Reach

Entering multiple markets can be complex, but strategically choosing regional hubs can offer distinct advantages:

  • Centralized Operations: Establish a central hub in a strategically located country with strong infrastructure and connectivity. This hub can serve as a base for regional operations, minimizing logistics and administrative overhead.
  • Market Access and Expansion: Utilize the hub’s established connections and infrastructure to expand into neighboring markets more easily. This provides a springboard for regional growth without replicating infrastructure in each location.
  • Resource Optimization: By centralizing certain functions like finance, marketing, and human resources in the hub, you can benefit from economies of scale and optimize resource allocation across multiple markets.

A Data-Driven Decision: Remember, the ideal location is a confluence of multiple factors. Gather comprehensive data, conduct thorough research, and consult with industry experts. Prioritize a location that balances ease of entry and growth potential, considering your specific business needs, industry, and risk tolerance.

Establishing your presence in a new market is an exciting leap, but the path to sustainable success demands careful consideration of your legal and operational structure. Choosing the right entity formation is akin to selecting the architectural blueprint for your overseas venture – it defines your control, responsibilities, and ultimately, your long-term profitability. Let’s explore the critical choices you face:

Subsidiary vs. Partnership: Weighing Control and Complexity

Two primary options dominate the landscape of overseas entity formation: subsidiaries and partnerships. Each model offers distinct advantages and challenges:


  • Independent Identity: A subsidiary is a separate legal entity from your parent company, with its own board of directors, management team, and financial obligations.
  • Strong Control: You have complete control over operations, decision-making, and brand management. This ensures consistency and aligns the subsidiary’s actions with your overall strategy.
  • Limited Liability: The parent company’s liability is limited to its investment in the subsidiary, protecting your domestic assets from potential losses.
  • Complex Formation and Compliance: Setting up a subsidiary involves navigating legal and regulatory hurdles, potentially requiring significant upfront investment and ongoing compliance requirements.


  • Shared Resources and Expertise: Partnering with a local entity leverages their existing infrastructure, market knowledge, and regulatory compliance experience. This can expedite entry and reduce setup costs.
  • Shared Profits and Losses: Profits and losses are shared between partners based on the agreed-upon structure. This can be advantageous in high-risk ventures.
  • Potential Control Dilution: You give up some control over decision-making, branding, and operations to your partner. Ensuring alignment and managing potential conflicts requires transparent communication and a well-defined partnership agreement.
  • Tax Implications: Partnership structures can have complex tax implications in both your home and host countries. Seek professional guidance to navigate these intricacies.

Operational Control and Taxation: Striking the Right Balance

Your choice of entity structure profoundly impacts operational control and taxation:

Operational Control: The level of control you desire over your overseas operations should significantly influence your decision. If maintaining tight control and brand consistency is paramount, a subsidiary might be preferable. Conversely, if local expertise and risk-sharing are priorities, a partnership could be advantageous.

Taxation: Both subsidiaries and partnerships have distinct tax implications, impacting profitability and compliance obligations. Consult with tax professionals in both your home and host countries to understand the potential tax ramifications of each structure and optimize your tax burden.

Hiring Specialized Legal and HR Support: Navigating the legal and regulatory complexities of overseas entity formation is crucial. Seek the expertise of international lawyers and HR professionals. Their guidance will ensure your entity is established compliantly, mitigating risks and ensuring smooth operations.

Choosing the Right Structure: The ideal entity structure depends on your unique business needs, risk tolerance, and long-term goals. Carefully analyze your operating requirements, industry dynamics, and the legal and tax environment of your target market. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option, and seek professional guidance to navigate the intricacies of each model.

Adapting Marketing Strategies: Conquering the Hearts and Minds of Global Audiences

Sailing the seas of international expansion demands not just a sturdy ship and a skilled crew, but also a dynamic navigation system – your marketing strategy. In the vast ocean of global markets, your message must resonate with diverse audiences, navigating cultural nuances and seizing local opportunities. Let’s explore the essential tools for adapting your marketing to conquer hearts and minds across borders:

Creating Culturally-Relevant Positioning: Finding Your Local Anchor

Your brand and messaging may be a shining star in your home market, but a cultural faux pas in another. Understanding local values, humor, and communication styles is paramount for crafting a culturally-relevant brand positioning. Consider these key aspects:

  • Language and Tone: Adapt your language to local dialects and nuances. Avoid idioms or references that might be lost in translation. Adjust your tone to resonate with local preferences, whether it’s playful, formal, or direct.
  • Visual Storytelling: Images and videos speak volumes across cultures. Choose visuals that align with local aesthetics and avoid symbols with potentially negative connotations. Tell stories that resonate with local aspirations and cultural contexts.
  • Values and Sensitivity: Respect local values and customs. Be mindful of religious sensitivities, gender roles, and social norms. Adapt your messaging to align with local priorities and concerns.

Remember, authenticity is key. Don’t simply translate your messaging – interpret it for your target audience, showcasing your brand’s core values through a culturally-sensitive lens.

Adjusting Digital Marketing Techniques: Optimizing Your Seafaring Tools

The digital waves of social media and online advertising carry your message far and wide, but optimizing these tools for each market requires strategic adjustments:

  • Social Media Strategies: Tailor your social media platforms to local user preferences. Engage on platforms popular in your target market, post content relevant to local trends, and participate in local online communities.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Research and utilize relevant keywords and localize your website content to improve search engine rankings in your target market. Consider offering translations of key pages and optimizing for local search engines.
  • Paid Advertising: Target your online advertising campaigns to specific demographics and interests within your chosen market. Leverage local data and insights to craft compelling ad copy and visuals that resonate with the target audience.
  • Influencer Marketing: Partnering with local influencers can give your brand a boost of authenticity and reach. Choose influencers who align with your values and whose audience matches your target demographic.

By understanding local digital landscapes and adjusting your tactics accordingly, you can harness the power of digital marketing to effectively reach your global audience.

Pursuing Earned Media Exposure: Riding the Local News Waves

Securing earned media coverage in local publications and channels can significantly enhance your brand awareness and credibility. Here’s how to leverage this powerful tool:

  • Develop Local Public Relations Strategy: Build relationships with journalists and media outlets in your target market. Share newsworthy stories and insights relevant to the local audience.
  • Participate in Industry Events: Sponsor or attend local industry conferences and events to connect with potential customers, partners, and media representatives.
  • Community Engagement: Actively engage with the local community through sponsorships, charitable initiatives, and partnerships with local NGOs. This fosters goodwill and generates positive media attention.

Scale Business Overseas: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is expanding overseas right for my business?

Expanding overseas can be a great way to grow your business, but it’s not for everyone. Here are some things to consider:

  • Does your business have a strong track record of success in your domestic market?
  • Is there a significant market opportunity for your product or service in your target market?
  • Do you have the resources, including financial, human, and intellectual capital, to support international expansion?
  • Are you and your team willing to commit the time and effort required to make international expansion successful?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then expanding overseas may be a good option for you.

Q: What are the biggest challenges of expanding overseas?

Some of the biggest challenges of expanding overseas include:

  • Cultural differences: Understanding and adapting to the cultural nuances of your target market is essential for success.
  • Language barriers: You may need to translate your marketing materials, website, and customer service communications into the local language.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: You need to be aware of and comply with the laws and regulations of your target market.
  • Logistics and supply chain: It can be more complex and expensive to ship products and materials to and from your target market.
  • Finding the right talent: You may need to hire local employees who understand the market and can help you navigate the challenges of doing business there.

Q: How much does it cost to expand overseas?

The cost of expanding overseas can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size and scope of your expansion, your target market, and the services you need. However, it is important to budget for startup costs, ongoing operational costs, and marketing and advertising expenses.

Q: What are some success stories of businesses that have expanded overseas?

There are many examples of businesses that have successfully expanded overseas. Some well-known examples include:

  • Starbucks
  • McDonald’s
  • Coca-Cola
  • Apple
  • Google

These companies have been able to adapt their products and services to different markets and cultures, and they have built strong relationships with local partners.

Scale Business Overseas Conclusion

Expanding overseas can be a challenging but rewarding endeavour. By carefully planning your expansion and taking steps to mitigate the risks, you can increase your chances of success. With the right strategy and execution, you can build a global business that thrives for years to come.

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