Foreign market entry does not always require a major investment. If you follow these six tips, overseas business will be at your doorstep in no time at all.
1. Go to your tech person, or do it yourself if you are able, and ask them to add this to your website:
“We service the world – contact us now!”
But first, make sure you can deliver. If you receive a lead from Germany, will you be able to service it? For example, will you understand the language should the customer communicate in their native tongue? Will you be able to ship your product or offer your service without a glitch? Do you know how to be guaranteed payment? If you answer “yes” to these questions, congratulations, you’re ready to conduct business in Germany! But don’t say you service the world if you can’t. If you service only parts of the world, such as the U.K., state that fact on your site so people immediately understand your capabilities. Nobody likes a time waster. Appeal to visitors’ needs in a nanosecond. Your new callout might now look like this:
“We service North America and the U.K. – contact us now!”
2. Join and actively participate in a variety of LinkedIn groups that focus on international business to show the world you are serious about going global and staying there.
You want to reach out to the world with your international networking capabilities. And this is an ongoing, consistent effort, not a flash in the pan moment. Flaunt your ability to obtain resources throughout the world by value creation. For example, bring together two unrelated synergistic parties in different countries to work on a world-changing project through Google Docs. Let people know you can build alliances and partnerships as well as cope with and learn from stumble bumbles in the global marketplace. These connections help identify new global market opportunities, contribute to breaking into new markets and increase one's knowledge base on a global scale.
A few groups I am a member of: Global Private Equity & Venture Capital, Global Sourcing, Go Global Internationalization Forum, HECNA Housewares Export Council, International Business and International Export Import, to name just a few. There’s more. Explore LinkedIn. See you there!
3. Jump in and get going. The later you wait to go global, the harder it gets. Why? Because just like routine, structure and bureaucracy can often kill innovation in an organization, it can do the same damage when it comes to taking a business global. You wait so long that by the time you’re ready, your domestic operation may hamper your ability to learn or take new avenues for growth. Some people refer to this as the death or curse of an organization. A few of you may have heard me say online, “Go global or your business will die.” It all falls into the same bag.
So my advice to you: Do it! Even if you don’t have every duck in a row, take your business global now, especially in view of President Obama’s big national export initiative. Provided you have a good global transport company (such as FedEx or UPS) and a sophisticated international banker, you are all set to get into the game and play ball in the global marketplace. Pick your market and get competitive now.
4. Use email and Skype, available in 29 languages and used in almost every country around the world, to build and maintain customer relationships. Also use it to communicate frequently with customers and suppliers to shorten the cycle time for developing innovative new products that will change the world.
Communication is king in the international marketplace. The more you know about a customer and an overseas market, the better your chance for success internationally. Set regular and consistent connection times with important customers, vendors, suppliers and colleagues. Make it your business to connect regularly one-on-one at their convenience whenever possible. Sure, there are challenges with the time difference. Get used to it. It comes with the territory; if you can’t handle it, then stay local and small. Find me on Skype at LaurelJDelaney or email me at ldelaney @ globetrade.com.
5. Exploit every global opportunity you come across and leave no stone unturned with the people you connect with in other countries.
Every time you have a close encounter via the Internet with someone from another part of the world, think this way: direct it, broker it, sell something, leverage it, stretch, resource share, offer an introduction, knowledge share, be pro-active, ask a question, reach out to key stakeholders and key influencers, take a risk and be innovative. The end result is that at some point, somewhere, something is bound to happen globally. It starts with your effort. Don’t wait for it. Make it happen.
6. Be fearless. Innovation and risk-taking go hand in hand with firms that go global. Taking the initiative to pursue a new international market beset with complexity, uncertainty and risk is innovation (and boldness) at its best. It’s considered a major business breakthrough into a whole new market, a whole new way of conducting business and a whole new revenue stream for your business. Who can resist?
In the words of Pulitzer prize-winning author
Thomas Friedman, sometimes “Just doing it” works in the world of global business.
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About the Author: Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can follow her on Twitter @LaurelDelaney.