Six questions to ask yourself before taking your business global

Making the leap to doing business internationally may seem daunting—after all, why add complexity if it’s not necessary? But doing business overseas can help your company grow, and with fewer complications than you might think. For example, the cloud makes it less expensive to operate across geographical boundaries—and cloud-based invoice and expense management tools can help small businesses sort out tax and compliance regulations before moving to new markets.

There are undoubtedly plenty of considerations to keep top of mind before making the leap. Let’s look at just a few questions to ask as you determine whether to open up shop in a new country:

 

  • What’s in it for you? Make sure you’re clear on the advantages that market could present to your business that you can’t get elsewhere, whether that’s the ability to disrupt that market, add additional clients, reap cost efficiencies or outshine the competition.
  • What’s the red tape? Do your research on local laws and industry regulations—they can affect everything from the taxes you pay to the way in which you and your employees work. You might even find some surprises, like less regulation in international markets than you have at home.
  • What do the locals want? Consider bringing on a local expert to help you navigate the waters, particularly if you’re not fluent in the language or the culture. Having boots on the ground isn’t just important for figuring out local laws and customs, it helps when you’re hiring, when determining your client demographic and during product planning.
  • What do the locals want? Part two. Is your product or service going to resonate with them? Here’s another area where having a local expert can help: They may be able to suggest tweaks that will make your value proposition even stickier with local customers.
  • What assumptions are you making? Does your business model rely on always-on, super-fast Internet speeds? And, does your new market provide that? Take time to fully assess what you need to succeed and then make sure your new market provides it, or research viable workarounds.
  • Are you ready to start over? You’ve built a reputation for your small business in your home country, but opening a presence in a foreign land may require you to do it all over again, depending on your business. In some ways, this can be a benefit. If you want to rebrand, now may be a good time. But don’t go into it blindly. Make sure you plan for the time and expense of building name recognition.

 

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