Tips for Conducting Business Abroad

Many small business owners often dismiss even the idea of taking their business overseas.

They see international business as the domain of multinational corporations and investment banks: the playground of the giants.

In truth, any business can, and should, take the opportunity to expand into the international market, leading into the first tip…

Take the Plunge!

Fear of failure can be blamed for holding back countless dreamers with great ideas.

The worry that a venture or innovation might go wrong often halts progress before it has even truly begun.

Every time this happens, it’s a missed opportunity.

The truth is that in 2020, taking a business overseas shouldn’t even be that much of a leap.

The whole world is virtual and connected: an Amazon seller in Barcelona can send their TV that was made in Kuala Lumpur from the warehouse in Ohio to your doorstep in California with the click of a button.

Plus, there’s the opportunity to discover new markets.

You might think that your vegan protein bar startup is fairly popular in your home country, but you might just strike a chord in China! Or France! Or Brazil! And you’ll never know unless you try.

Do Your Research

The next tip is probably the most important.

Where you may well tap into a completely new market, you also have to consider that just because your product or service was popular domestically, there are no guarantees that it’ll work abroad.

Research the market, find out what’s popular and what’s not.

doing business in foreign countries

A great example of this is Starbucks, who in their arrogance of dominating the American market, failed to realize that Australia, despite being a coffee-loving nation, had no interest in mass-produced coffee.

In 2008, Starbucks was forced to close over 70% of their stores in the cafe-culture loving nation.

The business simply underestimated just how much Aussies love going to their local coffee shop and made a huge financial error.

Don’t be like Starbucks (at least not in this respect).

Remember to Account for the Exchange Rate

It seems obvious, but remember that different countries’ currency values compared to the dollar fluctuate on a daily, nay, hourly basis.

Trading on changing values in itself can be a lucrative business, and you’ll find a lot of forex brokers online set up to take advantage of these fluctuations, which make for very exciting investment opportunities.

Outside of forex trading, however, currency values can make international business quite challenging.

When making international purchases, make sure that you know exactly how much you’ll be paying in your own currency, and remember to include any conversion charges that your bank or payment provider may add on to the transaction.

It’s also important to find out whether your company will need to be registered in the country that you’re planning on doing business in.

Do your profits from that company need to be kept in a bank account registered there? Do you need a physical address there? The answers to all of these questions vary by country, so again, make sure you do your research!

Promote in the Local Way

If it wasn’t already immediately obvious, you need to do your research.

This time, find out what the locals use to talk to each other and learn information.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all banned in China in favour of Weibo and WeChat.

Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world, and many live in rural areas, so you’re probably best off forgetting about social media altogether.

Yell may be very popular in the US, but it’s almost non-existent in the United Kingdom, where TripAdvisor is used instead.

Find out what the best ways of promoting your business are in each country you plan on doing business in, and hit all of them.

The key is to be relevant and present.

The more people see your business, the higher your chance of success.

So there you have it.

If you can take anything from this article, it’s to do your research and show up.

Don’t leave international expansion as something you’re not sure about, or worse, up to your competitors.