Technological advances in the last couple of decades have managed to make the entire world one big marketplace. Now it is possible for someone to sit in one’s house in Dubai and buy a product from a seller in Australia, all thanks to the internet. It is only fair, then, for small businesses to want to get on this bandwagon too. Fortunately, catering to the international market may not be as hard as you imagine.
Do the groundwork
Before thinking about taking your business overseas, carry out some basic research to see where you stand. At the end of the process, you should be able to answer these questions:
- Does the target market know about your offerings?
- Is the target market interested in your products?
- Does your chosen niche already face stiff competition?
- Are you comfortable doing business in the country you’ve selected?
- Is the infrastructure in the country up to your liking?
Study the competition
Getting people to place more trust in foreign products over local ones is no easy task, especially for small and mid-sized businesses. Ask yourself if you have what it takes to penetrate the local market and determine if you will manage to generate profits under given circumstances. Once you identify your competition, establish what you can do differently to add more value.
Cross the language barrier
Language can serve as a big barrier in taking your business overseas, especially to non-English speaking regions. If you feel learning a new language might be difficult, make sure you employ the services of a dependable translator.
Understand local laws
Take time to understand local taxation laws and business regulations because they tend to vary from one country to another. The United States, for example, taxes worldwide income and has special reporting requirements in such scenarios. Packaging and labelling standards also tend to vary regionally, so if you sell packaged goods this aspect requires your particular attention.
Get access to the right resources
If you plan to take your business overseas it is important that you have a great team in place. To head the team, you need someone who is passionate about your offerings, has enough industry experience, and understands the local market well. Using technological tools to simplify communication is the way to go. You can also rely on technology to manage paperwork and keep track of orders.
Deal with Forex in the right manner
If you plan to go global, you will need to make and/or receive overseas payments. Banks have continued to lose out on their share of the international remittance pie because of unfavorable exchange rates and steep fees. A number of FinTech companies have entered this realm in the last two decades, and ones that provide services to small businesses include CurrencyFair, TransferWise, WorldFirst, and OFX. Some of these companies provide free receiving accounts in multiple currencies, giving you the ability to bank like a local in different countries.
A number of countries suffer from high levels of corruption, where even getting started might require that you pay a few bribes. Incidentally, corruption is not legal anywhere in the world, and if found guilty you may face dire consequences. The 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index gives you an indication of which countries you should avoid in the first place.
Taking your business overseas requires that you do some basic groundwork. Once you’ve decided to take this path, make sure you give it all you’ve got. Do not hesitate to travel or learn a new language, and expect to deal with roadblocks now and again.