Expanding your business into multiple countries can be a great way to drive revenue and increase your client base.
As well as helping you to achieve international recognition, it opens up a plethora of marketing opportunities and can gain you valuable partnerships.
Despite these clear benefits, it is important to acknowledge that venturing into international business is not easy.
Different countries have different customs, processes and laws, and language barriers can make business meetings challenging to say the least. There are also unfamiliar financial systems to navigate and international payments to process, which must be handled in a secure, professional manner.
In order to succeed in this fast-paced environment, it is vital that you equip yourself with local knowledge, useful services and a professional attitude.
When businesses move into a country with a primary language different to their own, negotiations can become difficult. Misunderstandings that would not have previously been an issue suddenly become an occupational hazard, so it is important to reach a linguistic middle ground.
There are several ways that this can be achieved, including by hiring translators, ensuring multilingual staff are available, and developing language skills within existing staff.
Although translators appear to be the easy option in this case, it is important to be confident that any translator you hire is familiar with the topics you are going to be discussing. If the translation is anything less than exact, misunderstandings are likely to ensue and negotiations with clients could break down.
Hiring multilingual staff could be a strong investment for your business, as it will demonstrate that you are committed to international business and allow you to create strong client relationships. If this is not an immediate possibility, developing the language skills of your existing staff through a language course, like those offered by Rosetta Stone, who offers language-learning software, is essential for maintaining communication with international branches and clients.
Conducting business overseas can also become problematic when considering the different values and customs that exist in different cultures. Every country has individual ideas about what constitutes good manners and acceptable professional behaviour, so it is vital to educate your team about these differences before holding any international meetings or conference calls.
Knowing key pieces of information about the customs of a culture can have a significant impact on the success of your business overseas. For example, being aware that it is customary to bring a small gift to business meetings in Japan, or that deadlines are thought of as general guidelines in Spain, will give a positive impression to international clients. Getting this wrong, on the other hand, could damage both your reputation and your developing relationships.
Perhaps the most sensitive aspect of moving into the international business market is managing money effectively. This will naturally be a focus of your expansion, but it is important not to take financial issues for granted. Developing a regional or national business into an international enterprise involves a great deal of restructuring, which will most likely have an impact on every area of your existing system.
As well as managing revenue, travel costs and differences in economies, transferring money between countries will become a matter of high importance. It is essential that financial matters are handled with the greatest sensitivity, especially when countries with complex attitudes to money are involved.
Using the services of an international payments specialist such as Travelex will ensure that your transactions are handled securely and professionally, and that you will avoid hefty bank charges.
When doing business abroad it is essential to have some knowledge of the local area before travelling. This includes transport systems, traffic density and street layout. Aside from ensuring that you won’t get lost during your business trip, this will prevent you from being late to meetings with clients and partners, which is a big faux pas in most countries.
Taking time to study a street map of the area you will be travelling to could save you a lot of trouble in the future. Likewise, the simple act of researching the transport systems of a city or finding out the availability of taxis will arm you with the knowledge you need for a successful trip. There are countless apps that are specifically designed for this purpose, meaning that conducting business in an unfamiliar city is no longer a problem.