When growing up means going global. It’s definitely not easy! At Concur, our answer was to look beyond the enterprise level companies we were currently serving in the U.S., and look at the small and mid-market companies. Then, we looked at the marketplace outside of the U.S.
We knew companies across the globe were experiencing real pain, which our solutions could help solve. Knowing that our product was already relevant to companies outside of the U.S market, our challenge then became taking the leap into global expansion.
Does this sound familiar?
Navigating logistical challenges across oceans, familiarizing yourself with foreign preferences and learning local laws and customs can be scary. We have been there and in our experience, international expansion can be a challenge, but there is a great deal of opportunity for your business if you are open to it.
Based on our experiences, here are five small business tips for management that will help you go global:
Tip #1: Determine your readiness
Establish firm criteria for choosing the markets you will enter. Consider thresholds on key drivers such as:
- Market size and opportunity
- Partner landscape
- Solution readiness for the market
- Service readiness for the market
- Access to talent
Industry-specific factors will make expanding to some countries easier than others. A readiness assessment may help you discover markets that offer a head start.
Tip #2: Get the lay of the land
Understanding local laws and the business environment is important, but that’s just the beginning. Building cultural credibility is vital for attracting the initial crop of employees, clients and partners.
Establish local connections and leverage them as a sounding board to ensure you are communicating effectively when hiring, communicating with current employees, servicing clients and messaging to the public. Doing so will make small business management in a foreign environment much easier.
Tip #3: Invest in cloud-based technology
Cloud-based technology will help you scale with lower cost and risk. It also makes small business management easier by increasing access, improving productivity, reducing costs and boosting collaboration.
Using expense management as an example, cloud-based solutions can decrease work flow and increase your visibility as a small business manager, both of which lead to a reduction in costs.
Cloud computing is simple. There’s no need to install new hardware or software, and no IT administration to worry about. Your data is safer, too. In a cloud environment, all of your business data and files are securely in place.
Tip #4: Think hyper-local
Thinking hyper-local means understanding that the customers you serve in a new market have their own unique set of needs; needs that might be different from those of the customers you serve from your headquarters.
Thinking hyper-local may also help you adapt your solution and how you offer it, or help you create new solutions that best serve a new global market.
Tip #5: Create a global culture with consistent values
Make sure your employees feel tied into your organization’s goals and overall mission regardless of where they are working.
Holding global conference calls and video chats while celebrating victories, big and small, across the entire organization will help foster a global culture. Embrace your employees in other time zones by posting global numbers and working during your off-hours to lessen their inconveniences.
Managing your small business will be much easier if your team feels connected globally yet free to do their hyper-local work.