Image by: Michael Cote
By Michael Sterling
We all want to see our business grow. The expansion of your company is never going to happen over night, especially if you have dreams of going internationally. The market oversees (of any ocean) is going to take a lot of homework for you. Not only is the currency different, but the culture, tastes and and laws are as well.
If you want to go global, you must learn to think bilingual. Your entire work process is going to change. Whether you’re a small business or a giant corporation, the rules are the same. The international business language is ultimately going to be your biggest asset if you hope to expand to other countries.
When you’re entering into new markets, you can’t do it alone. It would be like fighting an army of gladiators with a smart phone and a laptop. You need a team – you can’t be in two places at once. Thankfully, with technology soaring with new inventions on a weekly basis, you might have a chance.
Learn From Others
The best kept secret to preventing problems is not only to learn from your mistakes, but learn from other’s mistakes as well. As website called Shastaedc.org offers blogs about businesses in California that have expanded successfully. They explain how they did it and why it worked out. Soak in a bit of knowledge.
One such business is The Fly Shop. You may have heard of it; it is the most successful fly fishing website in the world. Starting with just $2,750 and a $125,000 loan, CEO Mike Michalak managed to expand by creating a unique catalog, marketing to specific areas in the world where fly fishing is possible and offering client-friendly prices and shipping prices according to currency. By educating himself on marketed areas, he was able to relate to them.
Study The Basics
Every country is different. Start small – don’t immediately promote your business to five different countries. That’s more expense out of your pocket hiring tax people, translators, business partners, etc. If you want to make smart choices, you need to take this into your own hands. Study the laws, tax benefits, culture, currency differences, statistics and governmental support in the country.
Analyze the tax benefits. In certain parts of the world, like Jamaica and Belize, they will have tax free zones. Meaning, you won’t have to pay tax on your profits and are exempt from custom duties that you would normally be subjected to outside the zone. Companies like Nike have been under much criticism due to these zones since they have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money, while maintaining their manufacturing process within the borders.
According to Robert Kendzior, International Vice President for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin’ Robbins, you must first use the outlets you have. Everyone has access to the internet, right? Use the internet as a seed to grow from. This is where you can begin. Here’s an idea: build a digital business plan. With that you can then sell yourself to international partners and/or banks for negotiation deals. Not only that, but you can then edit it accordingly to match international protocol.
If you sell a great product or service, all you need to then worry about is numbers. Finding an international partner is different than business seekers buying your franchise. However if you know how your business should be run, then all you need to do is be a good communicator.
There are certain websites that cater to business outsourcing. Sites like Elance.com and Odesk.com make it possible to offer your services to anyone overseas, since payment can be made electronically. Not only that, but Elance also gives each country their own tax forms like the W-2 and will calculate the money earned towards those documents, so all they have to do is print it out during tax season.
Freelance services like these can be used to your benefit if you’re smart. Think of these sites like a second office. You can hire people to translate and do research, business errands, gather data, promote your services, and all while you are laying in bed asleep.