In the current business climate small companies must think big in order to survive. One of the most ambitious tasks for any small business to undertake is establishing an international presence. Many American companies are finding success overseas without diminishing their holdings at home. Broadband and wireless technology advancements have made reaching beyond borders easier than ever, but there are a few simple ways to help ensure your international advancements are worthwhile ones.
Learn Your Market
The first step to capitalizing on international markets is establishing relationships within them. Network and make contacts in the market you're interested in entering. Use social media to help find international business experts if you don't know any. You don't need to fly around the world to meet them, instead you can have a videoconference or chat via email. Learn the business customs, regulations and procedures, and be open minded to differing practices between businesses state-side and abroad.
Create International Policies
Once you have learned how your new market works, create guidelines to navigate your new business ventures. Though your company is moving multinational, you still must maintain one uniform code of ethics and procedures. Solutions to ethical dilemmas can be particularly difficult to keep black and white when cultural norms clash. Find a balanced solution that will work for you everywhere. You can always defer to your international contacts when these issues arise.
Don't get Lost in Translation
Language and cultural support is key to successfully navigating the complex regulations associated with international business. Become familiar with the languages and cultural customs of all the countries you plan to work with, and hire a translation service to look over and explain important documents. Consider setting up office space or a virtual office abroad so clients and contacts can reach you at a domestic address and phone number. Remember being patient and open minded is essential to communicating in any language.