Many people dream of starting a successful business. It isn’t easy and it is a lot of work. Many start at the level of a “mom and pop” kind of business. It isn’t until after years of hard work do they break out of that mold and become a state or national chain business. That is no small feat to accomplish. However, those that are truly ambitious never stay content and they never settle. Being a national business isn’t enough. They have to break into the international market. To do so is high risk, but it is also high reward. If you have weighed the risks of entering the international market, you probably want to make sure that you enter the market successfully. Building a competitive international business that performs well requires an awareness of global protocols and parameters. You also need to know who your competitors are. Here is how to build a competitive international business.
Most people will find that in conducting business abroad, there are distinct nuances and cultural differences that must be observed. The ability to navigate these relationships successfully determines the strength of any relationships developed. Start by becoming familiar with the language of your customers to help you establish a rapport. Take the time to really get to know your contacts; relationships should come before seeking out business opportunities. Be aware of the economic and political trends that could influence the success of your venture. Subtle differences between the American and European culture like the level of intimacy found within some US startups may be something you want to be familiar with as you seek out business abroad. Diplomacy graduate programs cover the basics of business etiquette and provide an overview of what to expect when doing business abroad.
Know your Competition
If you are truly wanting to break into the international market, you have to know your competition. Chances are there are other business just like yours in other countries. They may not be international per say, but you may be competing with that business in their home country. With that said, by knowing your competition it allows you to ask yourself, what it is that your competition does well and how you can do it better. Why should consumers do business with your company rather than giving to a company that is native to their country? In other words, what will you do that separates you from the rest of your competition? This will be the key to your success in the international market. Failure to do this will likely cause you to fail in the international scene. So plan carefully. It is high risk and high reward, but each risk you take when competing with your competition should be carefully calculated.
Understanding International Law
Just because you do business a certain way in your home country doesn’t mean it will work the same way on the international level. You have to play by the rules are laws in each country that you do business in. Therefore you need to know such things like tax law. Some international governments have rules on how you can compete with other business within that country. You will need to understand export and import laws as well as tariffs. Therefore it is very important you understand the laws in each country that you want to do business in. Take this factor very seriously as you don’t want to do business in a country that has laws that will constrict your business to the point that it wouldn’t be worth your time expanding to that particular country.
Knowing what you can deliver
Knowing your audience needs is important for any business owner. Knowing that you can consistently meet those needs is important when it comes to working with markets abroad. There are roadblocks and global protocols that could hinder your ability to deliver reliable products consistently to your customers. There may be infrastructural challenges that could affect logistics. There may be local laws that dictate the standards, design and composition of your products that could affect the speed of delivery. If working with a foreign distributor, you may be able to offer a better level of customer service. You may be able to find leads on a good foreign distributor by joining trade groups or a chambers of commerce.
Communications and messaging
Delivering the write messaging to the audience on the appropriate channels is important in getting the word out about a product. There are risks in relying too heavily on the traditional advertisement. When communicating with others, be sure to monitor the tone you use when engaging customers. Your service experience you want to deliver should be supported by the appropriate tone. Working with an experienced market research firm that deals with cultural perspectives will be helpful when developing the right messaging to your audience.
Products that are transported across the globe come with a new set of concerns. A shipping strategy that factors in costs and efficiency will be necessary in maintaining a steady supply of products to your new markets. High value items may need to be shipped differently. Other items may require a longer timeline for delivery; it could take months for a product to reach the customer. If you decide to work closely with a supplier, be sure that you have mapped out all of your delivery requirements so that you can fulfill orders in a reasonable amount of time. An international trade attorney can put these terms in a contract for you. When exporting items, you may need financing assistance during the startup phases. An export-import banking support can secure you financing for your deals as you venture out abroad.
Taking your business internationally is a huge step. As one of the most important business decisions you ever make, you’ll want to be prepared with the support you need. Cultural awareness, logistics and fulfillment limitations, and communications will improve your chances of business success abroad.