10 Tips for Starting an International Business
Starting a business is hard, but starting an international business involves a lot more research regarding the policies of the other country. So here are a few things to keep in mind as you continue researching where and how to get started.
Scope Out the Market
Is what you’re selling going to make it big in the new country, or is it already saturated? Do the tedious work of sending out surveys and researching if your product would sell well in that country, and what types of competitors you’re up against. Remember that just because something is popular in your home country doesn’t mean it’s popular everywhere; cell phone voicemail is used extensively in the US, but hardly at all in India, for example.
Research Local Laws
Every country has different restrictions, so research what taxes would be required, whether the steps you would take in establishing your business in the States would differ in that country, what services you would need to be in touch with to get the supplies and workforce, etc.
Make sure to allocate money towards products, shipping, wages, and leave room for expenses such as the moving truck for equipment, currency exchange, international cell phone data, emergency flights to visit the site, and any other potential, unforeseen expenses.
Maintain a Healthy Mentality
As with anything large and daunting, it takes time to adjust to the pressure as you weigh the ratio of success to failure. Give yourself time to evaluate and measure your efforts to progress, and overcome any feelings of inadequacy that you might feel when going outside your comfort zone. Allocate yourself time to decompress and breathe before jumping back into the current.
Study the culture you’ll be working with to better understand their communication practices and traditions. You want to build a healthy relationship with clients and employees from that country, so you want to be aware of taboo words, topics, or motions to avoid offense.
Communicate Clearly, and Frequently
Unless you know the language extensively, consider hiring a translator to ensure that there is little leeway for miscommunication as you talk in legal and technical terms. You will also want to establish a secure way of communicating with your clients abroad that is easy for them to access and respond quickly. Keep in mind any time difference between countries as you schedule meetings or phone calls.
Translate and Localize Your Content
Localization is the means of learning about a demographic and advertising to their needs and preferences. Translate and personalize the products for that country. Little things make a big difference, so enforcing simple measures such as using the right vocabulary and wording can help establish your credibility and create a healthy, positive reputation.
Hiring and Background Checks
Remote background checks can be tricky without a global database, and laws in other countries vary in their levels of security and type of information that is allowed to be disclosed. Some information may not readily be as accessible, but you want to try and perform the same type of background check on your international candidates as you would your American employees. Research what companies do international background checks, what information those checks entail, and go through reputable hiring sources.
Keep an Eye on the Market
Look for any potential political, economic, or health threat to the country that could influence your business. Even if it doesn’t seem even remotely related, there are enough interconnected factors within society that a disruption in your international country could change the market for your business.
Take time to project your plan for further expansion in case of steady success. On the flip side, set an action plan for how to cope with losses in the case your business shrinks. Losses can be hard to make up for, but if you have a backup plan to fall onto in order to help mitigate the repercussion internationally, it will be easier for you to adjust your strategy and slow the downward rate.
You might even consider a plan where if your international plan doesn’t go through, you can transition back to the States, and gradually ease into a State-side business until your business is stable enough to resume operations abroad once more.
Working internationally involves a lot of smart work ethic, research, and assessment to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Most importantly is your belief in its success, and having the proper education and business support which will increase your rate and your chances of managing a thriving, international business.