Going Global: 4 Expert Tips On Conducting International Business for the First Time

What’s the next big step for your small business?

One exciting avenue of expansion for any business is tapping into foreign markets. Conducting business overseas can offer a huge boost to your company.

International business can be tricky, however. There are several steps to follow if you want to excel at conducting international business.

Keep reading if you want the best tips to succeed at expanding your business overseas.

1. Determine the Right Market

Before you try to expand your business into a foreign country, you need to be sure that doing so is the right choice. This involves a lot of market research to find out where your company can succeed.

Take a look at your products. What needs do they serve? Now, what foreign markets are underserved for that need?

There’s a delicate balance to strike here. You want to find a market that has an interest in your product but isn’t already saturated with similar products.

You’re guaranteed to have at least a bit of competition, so do your research and figure out how you can make yourself stand out from the crowd. What can you offer that no one else does?

2. Learn Foreign Business Norms

Not everyone does business the same way. What might seem to you like a standard business practice could potentially offend or upset foreign business associates.

Again, this comes down to research. If you’re looking to move into a new region, make sure you understand how the people there do business.

What conversations are considered appropriate for work? What kinds of clothing are considered professional? What is expected of you during a meeting? What are the appropriate methods of negotiating a deal?

Even an honest mistake here could prove costly, so do your homework!

3. Understand Culture and Etiquette

While business practices are the most important aspects to nail down, it’s also a good idea to research the culture of the region you wish to expand into. This can help you avoid embarrassing faux pas.

There are certain things that may be innocuous in one culture, but upsetting in another. For example, in Chinese culture, clocks symbolize death.

There are lots of other cultural differences that might crop up in the course of doing business. Educate yourself so you can avoid damaging important relationships.

4. International Business Requires Extra Work

Even after you’ve done all of your prep work–finding the right market and researching the culture there–you need to prepare yourself for all the extra work that goes into foreign business transactions.

It’s easier than ever to send money overseas, but you still need to be aware of things like currency exchange rates. Other considerations include import and export regulations and the cost of international travel.

There’s also a lot of extra paperwork, as well as additional contacts to keep track of. Make sure you understand the time zone difference between you and your new associates, too!

Expand Your Business Overseas

Expanding into international business is an excellent way to grow your company, but it’s not a simple thing to do. You need to prepare yourself to put the work into understanding foreign markets and cultures.

You also need to be ready for the extra paperwork!

For more great advice, check out our business blog!