Building a Presence in Foreign Countries
April 16, 2018
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Entering the global stage is a necessary step for most US small businesses. After all, sourcing supplies from overseas makes a lot of sense, since it enables you to cut costs and increase your efficiency.
Exporting your products to a foreign country is just as important as it helps you gain new customers and increase your profits.
However, doing business globally is far from easy. Small business owners need to familiarize themselves with foreign regulations, different business cultures, and solve logistical problems when they arise.
Read our 5 essential tips that will help you build a strong presence in a foreign country.
Do Your Research
Do a thorough market analysis of the foreign country you’ve chosen. Learn everything you need to know, including regulations, tariffs, consumer preferences, business and consumer culture, and how your products could fit in.
Consult our international business guides for all the practical information you need to know about your chosen country.
Exporting is certainly a daunting task. But luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. There are several organizations that aim to help small businesses enter the global market.
US embassies and consulates, as well as the website, Export.gov, offer various services to assist small businesses that want to build a presence in a foreign country.
These are just a few examples. For a full list, read our blog Organizations Helping US Small Businesses Export.
Test the waters before you take the plunge. Select a test audience in your chosen country and let them try your product first. Ask for their feedback. Would they buy your product? Where would they look for it?
Based on the feedback you receive, make any last-minute changes. Revise your positioning, your marketing campaign, and your packaging, if you can.
Start with a small shipment first, and increase your volume as you build demand for your product. If your first product is a success, you can introduce another one to the foreign market.
Find a Local Partner
Working with a local partner will take a large burden off your shoulders. Depending on the nature of your business and products, you may choose a local distributor or even a retailer as your business partner.
Ask around among your domestic business associates if they could recommend a foreign business partner to you. Additionally, trade shows in your industry provide an excellent venue for meeting potential business partners.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to an online database, like Export Solution and Global Trade. And, last but not least, the organizations mentioned above can help you with suggestions for possible partners as well.
Selecting a business partner is not easy. You need to be able to trust your partner since they will represent your business to your foreign customers.
Research your prospective business partner online before you commit yourself to a partnership. Look for red flags like broken contracts, or complaints from other companies, customers, or even employees.
If your export business is booming, you can consider taking the next step: opening a local branch. Depending on the nature of your business, this may be a small office with just one employee, or your first shop on foreign soil.
Whichever option you go with, opening a local branch requires a lot of legal knowledge. You need to be aware of employment regulations, business hours, consumer protection rules, and much more.
Consult with a professional who knows both US and local regulations. That way, you can receive a comparative analysis that can help you understand foreign regulations and comply with them.
Finding such professionals may not be easy. Again, ask for assistance from US agencies helping small businesses export.
Whichever stage your foreign business adventure is in, you need to have a fast, efficient, and safe global payment method. But international wire transfers are neither of those. Luckily, you don’t have to put up with those anymore.
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