As a business grows, expanding overseas will be inevitable. Global markets offer greater opportunities for growth, and smaller firms are finding that their unique services are very much in demand overseas. It might seem a huge and daunting prospect, but by paying attention to detail, outsourcing administrative functions, and utilizing online tools, businesses can give themselves the best chance of a smooth transition to international expansion.
The following online tools can provide practical assistance for businesses aiming to expand globally:
- Major shipping companies now offer web apps that enable online tracking globally, as well as provide an estimate of costs and a check for compliance with rules, laws and tariffs for a specific country.
- Websites such as gov will assist in establishing whether an export license is required.
- The US State Department’s travel website is invaluable for keeping up to date with evolving international situations.
- International Business Tools is a website that provides a range of material for business travellers, including information on airlines, local etiquette, weather, and currency.
- Doodle is an online tool for scheduling meetings and appointments.
- Various social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter, can be effective platforms to cross the language barrier and reach a global audience.
- Online freelance marketplaces can help with recruitment of certain specialists.
- Most overseas vendors accept PayPal, which allows people to send and receive payments almost anywhere in the world.
- Paid web-based calling services that connect to an affordable international calling plan can provide a cheaper means of making international calls.
- Many translation tools can be found online, including FreeTranslation.com, while Google Translate can translate around 58 different languages.
Fahad Al Rajaan has a successful international business; as confirmed by his Bloomberg profile, he is Chairman and Managing Director of Kuwait Real Estate Investment Consortium KSC. Al Rajaan has served as Company Director of Ahli United Bank (UK) Plc, a commercial bank that was formerly known as United Bank of Kuwait. For a business to be successful internationally, it is essential to understand the full impact of going global. Will the product sell or be required abroad? A business should conduct a gap analysis to establish whether there is a demand for the product and find out if there is existing competition. How long will it take to capture targeted sales?
A business plan that remains integrated with the overall corporate strategy and objectives should be a top priority. It can be more efficient to utilize proven company executives with experience, rather than recruiting a local team from scratch, or using executives from the parent company. Compliance with government and industry regulations and legal documentation for some countries will need to be confirmed, and cultural differences must be considered with regards to policies and procedures for employees. The proper tax and finance infrastructures must be in place in time.
Understanding the targeted market with all its nuances, including the competition, current local market trends, and requirements to successfully launch and drive growth are essential as a starting point. With the right advice and online tools, international business expansion can and should take place.