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How to send your small business global

Expanding your business into international markets can reap huge benefits – but if you’re not properly prepared it could backfire. Here’s how to send your small business global…

With the world marketplace getting ever smaller thanks to globalisation and new technology that makes international communication even easier, growing your small business in foreign markets isn’t as hard as it once was.

But even still, it takes courage, determination and a lot of preparation to make it a success.

Here are our tips to get your firm ready to make a trip abroad.

BE 10 Nov a

Find the right market
Don’t expand abroad for the sake of it. Only do so if you’ve found a gap in a foreign market that you think you can exploit. You have to be focused with your drive.

Remember, you won’t have the resources to research every available foreign market. Choose one that you feel would be a good fit for your product or one you already have a connection with and go for that.

Hire multi-lingual staff
Communication is vital when trying to explain to potential clients and customers the benefits of your product. Online translation services are an option but the good ones are expensive and the free ones unreliable.

Hiring someone who has first-hand experience of the language also comes with the benefit that they may well also have good knowledge of your new market’s culture. If you can’t hire someone in your own country, look for someone in the new market to act as a local guide.

Do your homework
Before you step foot on foreign soil you’ll need to have a full international business plan sorted. This should lay out everything from initial costs to expansion prediction.

You’ll also need to brush up on local legalisation, import and export duties, and foreign currency exchange rates. You don’t want to get hit by a huge tax bill or unexpected changes in currency.

On top of this, you also need to be an expert in local customs. Find out how they do business. You don’t want to organise a meeting for a Saturday only to find it’s a sacred day or turn up in jeans and shirt to see everyone else in suits.

Visit overseas expos and events
Once you’ve chosen your market and sorted your business plan, it’s time to actually do some networking in the country. See if there are any major exhibitions, expos or conferences taking place.

These are a great place to get a feel for the market and how business is done. You’ll also be able to spot potential rivals and see how they approach things.

Embrace technology
Once you’re set up abroad, it’s time to embrace modern technology. You don’t need to be in the country to run a business – video conferencing can help you bridge the physical distance. Just remember to look out for time differences so you’re not video calling people at 8pm.