In the last 20 years, the opportunity to run your business on a global level has become much easier. No longer is international business only for mega-corporations. Now, small businesses can get in on a piece of the worldwide economic puzzle quite easily.
In one survey, 58 percent of small businesses indicated they have at least some international customers. It’s easy to reach across the pond or borders and bring in more business than you thought possible.
However, competing on an international level has some specific challenges. Here are eight things you can do if you want to take your small business global:
1. Find a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
What is it about your business that makes it unique from every other business out there? How can you better solve a problem for customers? One of the best ways to formulate your own USP is to study those of your competitors. Do you see any gaps your company could fill?
2. Offer Great Customer Service
Customer service can make or break your repeat business. A single bad customer service experience sends 33 percent of Americans to a different company. This can be an opportunity for you. If your customer service is exemplary, then you may just gain new customers when your competition’s service is not.
3. Find Niche Markets
If you want to compete on an international level, you have to find the niche areas that aren’t being served by bigger businesses. This might mean you start small, but as these customers come on board and realize how great your customer service is, they’re more likely to use your other products and services as well.
4. Speak Their Language
If you want to do business with people in other countries, you need to make it easy for them to access your site in their native language. To break into a new market, consider hiring a professional translator to come up with a version of your site in the language of the country you’re targeting. Be aware that French is one of the most common languages in the world.
5. Hire Remotely
If you want to expand into a new market, it makes sense to hire people who live and work in that marketplace, so you can fully understand the ins and outs of doing business in the area. Consider bringing in remote workers in the country you’d like to expand into to advise you and help you with etiquette and customs.
6. Get on Social Media
Social media is global in nature. Whether you have a presence on a site such as Twitter, where a majority of users are not in the United States, or you seek out social media outlets in specific countries, if you want to global you need a strong social media presence. Develop the content on your site, so you have something of value to share that will drive people to your website.
7. Offer Local Shipping
As soon as you can afford to, rent a warehouse and staff it so you can ship to other countries and the item arrives quickly. Sending out packages via airmail is not only expensive, but also delivery can take weeks. This is frustrating for consumers seeking excellent deals on products, but who expect to receive those products in time for a special event.
By shipping within the country you’re selling to, you reduce time and costs. Of course, you’ll need to first ensure you have enough business in that country to cover the cost of foreign distribution.
8. Understand Local Customs
Take the time to understand the local business customs in the areas where you’d like to expand your business. If you go to a meeting with a French partner, you’ll be expected to dress formally. On the other hand, Chinese business people come to meetings prepared with a presentation, so it would be smart to have one on hand that highlights key points.
No matter the area, find a mentor who can verse you on the ins and outs of local customs and how business happens in that country or area of the world. This will vary from region to region, so it’s worth the time investment to be sure you and those you’re working with are all on the same page.
Taking your small business from local to national to global takes time and a solid game plan. Move forward with a strategic goal in mind and be open to learning from others who’ve gone before you. Those with more experience know which pitfalls to avoid and which shortcuts to take. With a little effort, being open to new ideas and determination, your tiny house can become a global powerhouse that people talk about all over the world.