It has never been easier to do business around the world than it is today. The world’s economies are closer than they’ve ever been and this is in no small part because of the internet. It has connected people from all over the world in ways that could not have been anticipated. It has also made selling products or services to those people a lot easier too. If your business does not have an online presence, even if you only trade locally, then you are behind the times and can expect to lose to your more innovative rivals. Online giants like Amazon have demonstrated just how powerful the internet can be: it was started in 1995 in Seattle, Washington as an online bookstore. Five years later, Jeff Bezos was named Time’s Person of the Year. As of today, Forbes estimates his net worth at over $77 billion. His company does business in countries all over the world from the US, to the UK, France, India, China and Japan. If it were not for the internet, Amazon would quite obviously not exist. If you want to follow in the footsteps of the fifth wealthiest person in the world, then here are a few tips for doing business around the world:
It may seem rather obvious but you would surprised at how neglected this practice is, but if you want to start doing business in a foreign market, you need to do meticulous, and ideally, first-hand research into what is successful there. Every country has its own unique ways of doing things, and this extends to the world of commerce too. If you go and see which existing companies are successful, you can study what makes them superior to their competitors and have a better idea of what you should do. Getting a feel for how things work in your future markets will also give you a better sense of what sort of marketing campaigns are likely to be effective. A particularly important point to remember is that every country around the world has their own values and traditions. One of the worst things that you can do is fail to learn about these and then make a potentially offensive advertising campaign (here are a few particularly bad examples). This will ensure that your reputation will be ruined and you will not be able to do business in that place again. Learning what works and what doesn’t is as simple as going there and seeing for yourself, and besides, getting away from the office for a few days is never a bad thing.
Aside from what makes the local market tick, and the things that make it stop, you should also try to cultivate as many business contacts as you can. Just when you are trading in your home country, you can not do it alone. Finding the right people and offering them paradigms that could benefit you both is imperative to doing business abroad. If you do not speak the local language, you should consider hiring a guide or an interpreter. It demonstrates that you are serious about learning about the people with whom you wish to do business. Besides, there is nothing quite as off-putting as the arrogance that is implicit in expecting others to speak English simply because it is a global lingua franca. Making the effort to make your future colleagues and customers feel comfortable could mean the difference between success and failure. Another thing about which you should make yourself aware is the local laws in the place that you intend to trade. Every business is subject to regulations and guidelines and doing business abroad is no different. Studying exactly what you’ll need to do to stay out of trouble is crucial before you even think about selling something as modest as a pencil.
Once you’ve figured out where you want to do business and you’ve figured out a potential demographic, you need to start thinking about the more concrete aspects of your business like logistics. Delivering products from one country to another is subject to all sorts of laws and restrictions. You should carefully consider which options are the best. Putting your products into shipping containers and setting them of across the sea may be cheaper but it is also quite time intensive while sending things on cargo flights is slightly more expensive, but it takes a fraction of the time. Once you’ve decided on the means by which you are going to transport your goods, you should think about how they are going to be housed while in transit. An efficient way of doing this is finding a system that allows the products to be shipped in the same containers in which they will be sold. For instance, if you want to export beauty products, you should consider shipping them in the state that you intend to sell them in (visit CL Smith for ideas). Having to set up a separate processing plant and hiring employees to run it is a massive expense that could be avoided if you choose the right options for shipping your products.
The last thing to consider, and this is something that is crucial to domestic business success too, is your customer service strategy. Providing the same degree of care and attention that you give to your local customers to your international ones is important because overseas customers are no different. They want to know that they are valuable to you and that you will continue to deliver the great service or product next time if they choose to do business with you again. Doing this can be somewhat logistically difficult: if your customers are in a different time zone to you (and the chances are good) then you need to hire people that are in the timezone of your customer so that they can make sure they are there during business hours. You could hire people in your home country to stay up half the night, but another thing that makes people trust a company is if they feel that the people they speak to are local and trustworthy. Investing in a local office, even if it is quite modest, will set you apart from massive corporations who outsource all of their customer service to rather detached call centres.
Doing business on a global scale takes patience, a close attention to detail and a capacity for hard work (including lots of travel). It is also how to succeed in the connected modern world.