Many small businesses have the perception that going global is something impossible for them. However, the advances in technology and the liberalization of the global business landscape have meant that both small and large business can expand their business globally. The Internet has made it possible for businesses to tap into the global markets and for consumers to find businesses all over the world.
Even as you seek to localize your business, you should also think about how to globalize it to leverage the international business opportunities. Growing your business globally can help to improve business sales. Accessing a wider audience in contrast to a narrow one can go a long way in boosting returns on investment as well revenues. Studies show that up to 56 million people who access the internet everyday are from non-English speaking countries.
Taking your business global means overcoming the physical boundaries and distributing your services and products into territories that are not necessarily familiar to what you are used to locally. The number of non-English speaking people accessing the internet will continue to grow in the coming years. These users will be looking for competitive and competent businesses that can offer them the goods and services they need. This should be enough reason to get you planning to expand your business internationally.
Here are some best practices to take your business global:
Taking your business global is a big step and you want to consider certain factors before jumping in. Planning for your global business entails establishing the objectives of your business for making this move. Of course, you want to reach a wider market and to improve your bottom line. But is this feasible for the type of product you are offering? Does your target market require this product/service?
Who is your target market and what are their attribute? Consider the aspect of competition and whether you can effectively differentiate your products from the competitive global market. Will you make a profit by taking your business global and what will you do to stay profitable? These are just a few factors to consider as you plan to expand globally.
Consider the Business Infrastructure
Various laws and regulations govern the global business environment. Additionally, every country has its own requirements for global businesses. As such, it is important to understand the human resources and taxation regimes in the countries you plan to do business in. Even if your business is based online, some countries will impose a levy on the goods and services you offer to consumers in that jurisdiction. Such factors as import and exportation costs, storage and taxation can add to your cost of doing international business.
Important factors to consider here are:
Employment regulations in the country of business: if you are going to have a physical presence ensure to abide by the employment laws in the country you set up shop in. If you need to offer an employment contract, do this to avoid HR contentions that can jeopardize your brand image.
Import and Export regulations: Most small businesses do not understand shipping procedures and this can lead to infringement of laws or losses. Admittedly, shipping requirements are quite complex but it is better to understand these requirements. This will also allow you to factor in shipping costs as you plan your business finances.
Don’t Forget Technological Set Up
As you seek to take your business global, you want to make the experience as seamless as possible. Plan to put in place a technological infrastructure that will facilitate your business across different territories. It is best to implement cloud technology that will not cost you much in terms of business communication and collaboration with your global workforce and customers too. Web software, an email management system as well as social media can easily and conveniently connect you with your global customer base. This technological infrastructure can also help you to gather marketing data about your international market. Think about how your customers and prospects will find you. Implement a social media strategy, a website and/or a blog that will allow your customers to engage with your brand in real time and irrespective of their location.
Global Payment Structure
How will customers pay for goods and services? Be sure to carefully implement a payment structure that is convenient for you as well your target market. In the past, many global businesses used letters of credit to transact. While these are still in use, online modes of payment have made global transactions much easier and more convenient for both the seller and the buyer. Services such as PayPal have made the purchase and sale of goods and services more feasible. However, this service is not available in all countries; choose and implement a global merchant payment structure that will encourage shoppers to finish the shopping process and not to abandon the shopping carts because the procedure is too complex.
Taking your business global means doing business in a different culture and with people who may be different from you or your local consumers. One of the most effective ways of creating a positive brand image and loyalty is adapting your services or products to the local market by considering their cultural and social expectations
Tailor your brand to the needs of the customers in the territory you are targeting. It is not appropriate to try to sell a product that the local market does not want or that does not appeal to their cultural and societal norms. The local consumers will consider this as insensitivity.
In addition to adapting the product for the local audience, you must also take time to understand how business is done on that country. What are cultural norms, what are the dos and don’ts? Learning the business culture of the territory you want to set shop in will expedite the process of your setting up there effectively.
Localizing Your Website
You are targeting an audience that is larger than the English speaking market. This calls for website localization, which allows you to speak the language of your customers. You might want to create different websites for your different markets. For example, you could include ‘jp’ in your website domain to localize the site for a Japanese audience. Site visitors will also consider your website a trustworthy.
Localizing your website also requires you to indicate local currencies for all the products you are selling. If you do not yet want to create a fully-fledged website for every country you are doing business in, you can first create a simple product page and an order form.
Finally, optimize your website for the local search engines. This will allow customers and prospects to easily find you online. Simple tools such as Google Adwords can help you to create a keyword list for all the markets you plan to expand to. Instead of translating words directly from English, work with a local person or a translation company that will help you to correctly translate keywords and phrases for your market.