The American appetite for products of nearly any kind is almost limitless, but if you can do business overseas and don’t reach out to these foreign markets, you could be losing huge profits. For most entrepreneurs, business in another country can seem complex and daunting. But every year many small businesses make the transition successfully. If you’re a growth-oriented business owner, one or more foreign markets could be eager for your product or service. Here are the basics to getting started abroad.
Do the Research
Entry into the global market will bring you some growth opportunities but also potentially hard competition from larger companies that already occupy a segment of the overseas market. To prepare yourself, invest the time and money in market research.
Evaluate and identify potential demand in each of the countries you hope to target, the logistics of cost-effective delivery, and the expenses and channels of marketing. Put together some insights into a promotional strategy that’s feasible for a different culture. You must also be familiar with the taxes, fees, and trade laws at home and in the foreign nation. There are also foreign stock exchanges and industry councils you might want to take part in.
Train for Diversity
As you establish yourself globally, your overseas employees will become the core of your operations. You’ll need to make new hires and define duties and responsibilities. Your sales team, for instance, will have to be people who are very fluent with the language and the culture. If you can’t relate to the local customers effectively, your potential will be very limited.
At the same time, employees at the head office who interact with overseas personnel should be trained in diversity awareness, and how to communicate and cooperate across time zones. You may have to work out a plan for coordinating your HR with a qualified native HR professional in the new country.
Getting the right digital technologies in place will be important to supporting your company in a global environment. It may help to set up cloud services so that you have synchronized online cloud sharing for allowing on-demand access to documents for your overseas staff. A VPN (virtual private network) will also be a good idea to ensure that communications remain confidential.
You could consider adding mobile technology to your foreign locations so they can communicate with you and with each other as needed when working away from the office. You may also have to think about providing foreign workers with computer apps they may be more comfortable working with, as they’re liable to have different English skills. Your IT team must be able to handle integrating everything smoothly between countries, so it may be necessary to call in a consultant or service in each new country where you establish yourself.
All of your online tools must also be configured to serve the needs of your overseas customers. This can include company websites, knowledge bases, social media, advertising, and more. A multilingual website will have to become part of the online experience your company provides. This allows consumers or suppliers with low or non-existent English skills to get information on your products and services without the language barrier.
Failing to accommodate your new customers in their native tongue will deprive them of the same quality of customer service, information, or tools you provide to U.S. customers. This can undermine your brand both abroad and at home, not to mention drive away those same purchasers you were hoping to win over.
Entering an overseas marketplace will bring a whole new set of challenges in logistics and customer relations. Even well-established companies can run into hiccups, like when some consumers started wondering if ACN was a scam. If, however, you can learn how to provide foreign customers the same good experience you do for American purchasers, your company will continue to grow. You can succeed if you put your mind to it and do the work necessary.