Starting your own company is a huge step, and it allows the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive not only in the United States, but potentially worldwide. With your vision for growth and forward thinking capacity, it is time to start thinking beyond the US borders, and take your brilliance to new heights. Operating inside the United States is a great start, but expanding internationally requires research, knowledge, and diplomacy to insure that you are operating legally, intelligently, and inoffensively.
The best news that a business owner can hear is that people across the globe are interested in their product, idea, or service. It is important to understand how these interested markets are going to use your company’s offerings before solidifying a deal with any potential clients — no matter how exciting the deal sounds. If you are simply not lucky enough to have international appeal fall into your lap, research the areas that could benefit from your company’s capabilities, and make contact with those companies. Cold contact methods are not simply limited to stateside business development. There are a number of individuals and companies that exist internationally who provide the same products or services as their American counterparts who could use the exact product that you have! Internet directories can open a completely new world of research, so take advantage of it.
When you are considering your target markets, think big from the beginning! Be sure that an 800 phone number is available, and that your website allows for easy translation. If you sell a product, mention that sales, shipping, and taxes can easily be estimated for any shipment, domestic or international. In addition, create a partnership with a shipping broker who is familiar with customs and border agencies, policies, and procedures so your products are shipped seamlessly and without delay, to any international market.
Developing a Working Knowledge of the International Community
International trade can be successful with a standard amount of trust between two parties. Certainly, trying to free a person from a Nigerian prison, or responding to an email claiming that you have won the Queen’s Lottery do not fall within the circle of trust for any person or business. However, once you have initiated an interest in entering a market, it is important to research the government, culture, and existing business climate before jumping in with both feet.
It is necessary to operate within another country’s social and business parameters, which can simply mean not telling jokes that may seem offensive to their culture. Since it is almost impossible to know every nuance of cultural differences, it is best to operate in a straightforward and professional manner at all times.
In short, find out what any international company expects in the way of communication, even if that means talking to a company that has worked with them before. Reaching out to current partners of potential clients, assuming they are not your direct competition, is a perfect way to understand the professional culture. Again, the Internet is a wealth of information on the subject, as is your shipping broker.
Keep It Legal
Although this should always be your operating tactic, it is important to know that your accountant may have a completely different set of rules for sales and services provided to the international community. Cover all of your bases by first asking your professional partners about the pros and cons of operating internationally from a legal, tax, and liability standpoint. You certainly do not want to find out that you are losing money by operating offshore, especially if you only find out when the IRS comes to collect. You also do not want to get stiffed on the bill, so create reasonable payment expectations from the beginning of your negotiations. Ideally, operating internationally will simply expand your client base and revenue, so think big from the beginning!
Author Bio: Andrew Deen is writer who creates informative articles in the field of diplomacy. This article was created to encourage further study in this area, particularly with a Degree in Diplomacy.