Moving your company from a local market to the global one doesn’t have to be costly. With today’s technology, expanding to the international market is easier than ever.
There are many factors that make companies hesitant about moving out into the global market. Different languages, cultures and business practices are just a few hurdles that probably come to mind. But selling your products on a national level can help boost revenue, especially if the economy’s a little tight on your home turf.
Here are four strategies to help you navigate the global stage:
- Protect yourself from risks. Credit fraud is a bigger possibility on the other side of the world. So protect yourself by using credit insurance. It can be put in place on a case-by-case basis. For example, you can use it with new customers until a solid relationship and trust are established. Or use a “Collect on Delivery” (COD) service for a fast, secure, simple payment alternative for international trade. Some credit insurance providers in the United States include: Ex-Im Bank and FCIA.
- Slash shipping costs. Plan ahead to minimize any import duties or brokerage fees and make it clear to the customer if they’ll be responsible for paying them. Customers are eager to get products they can locate locally, so even if a shipping cost seems high to you, they may still be willing to pay. Shipping companies are very competitive and caterto all sizes of companies. And can also handle any customs clearance.
- Make sure your prodcuts and Web sites are “global” ready. When you’re ready to reach out to other countries, cultures and languages make sure your Web site’s ready too. Invest in translating your site and any other marketing pieces so potential customers can read product descriptions in their own language. Places to check out for Web site translating: Applied Language Solutions, Click2Translate and Be Translated. Make sure your shipping table calculates international rates, including any extra fees that may need to be paid. You may also want to either include, or provide a link to, a currency converter like the one found on Yahoo or Xe. You may also want to invest in is hiring a company to check the meaning and cultural implications your product, company name and logo may have in other countries. Choice Translating, and many companies who offer Web site translations, will perform the research for you at varying costs. Check out The Orange Book for a searchable database of translation companies.
- Use the help that’s available. There are a number of organizations, both public and private, that are designed to help small and medium businesses branch out to the global market. Three of the heaviest hitters are: the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Business & Industry loan program. These organizations will offer export information, development assistance, trade counseling, training, legal assistance and publications. SBA’s Office of International Trade works with federal agencies and public- and private-sector groups to help small businesses who export receive loans.