So, your business has found success in the U.S. market. Now, your goal is to expand overseas. There are multiple benefits to taking your business global including increased brand recognition, a diverse customer base and large scale networking opportunities. But, gaining traction abroad is no small feat.
The competition is fierce, so if you want to be relevant on the international stage, you’ll need more than a great product or service. You need to understand the type of culture you’re entering into. How it functions, what makes it unique, and how you can impact its economy are all questions you’ll need to ask yourself. Before you plunge into the global market, pay attention to taking these steps first.
Educate Yourself on Cultural Differences.
Every country has its own approach to conducting business and interacting in the workplace. This includes everything from body language to office etiquette and time management. Prepare for breaking into these different spheres by thoroughly understanding the cultural nuances and expectations within each market.
What happens if there’s a language barrier? Even if there is one initially, your approach should be to make a sincere effort to connect with that specific country’s practices, customs and social norms. This will establish your organization (and yourself!) as authentic, credible, and trustworthy. If you’d like to learn more about professional cultures you might encounter across the globe, check out this comprehensive guide from Business Insider as a reference point.
Collaborate Across Various Time Zones.
When you have business partners, clients, and/or remote staff dispersed around the world, you need to accommodate everyone’s time differences. Maintaining contact on a regular basis matters in order to strengthen business relationships. However, when that communication is restricted by multiple time zones and geographical distance, you have to learn to be flexible.
Enjoy face-to-face dialogue using video conferencing software like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Cisco WebEx, and GoToMeeting. Admittedly, some of these conversations for both you and your colleagues may occur earlier or later than you’d like. However, it’s key to get your colleagues participating in both informal brainstorms and official meetings.
Understand the Foreign Demographic.
The success of a company is relative to the support of its customer base. If you want to gain a foothold overseas, it’s critical to identify your desired target demographic in that region.
Invest energy and intentionality into learning who these members are and what makes them unique. Form relationships and approach them as human beings, not sales pitches or marketing quotas. Localize your content to resonate with their worldview and frame of reference. Listen to their feedback and channel it toward improvements.
Adhere to International Business Laws.
From a tactical and logistical standpoint, conducting business relations abroad also means there are regulations you need to know about within each jurisdiction.
Many business owners may not realize that foreign markets have their own legal parameters. Because of this, they may continue operating just as they would in the United States. Commercial trade laws across the globe are often as diverse as the nations they represent, so familiarize yourself with these policies before any legal issues arise. Consider the rules for payment methods, corporate structure, and import and export compliance. You should also pay attention to laws surrounding labor and employment, filing taxes, and intellectual property.
Achieving an international bandwidth takes both dedication and education. You must be committed to the endgame and prepared to learn from your target audience. The cultural differences might pose a challenge at first, but the diversity and enrichment they will bring to your organization are invaluable. So when the time comes to enter this next phase of business growth, keep these pointers — and an open mind — at the ready.
Nigel Blythe-Tinker is the Executive Chairman for VGW, the company that revolutionized the social gaming industry with their Chumba Casino and Global Poker brands. He has extensive United Kingdom and international corporate experience, spanning over thirty years. This covers all forms of mergers and acquisitions, divestments, corporate finance, restructuring, AIM and FTSE 100 flotations, corporate governance and incentive schemes. He has 17 years’ experience within the international gaming sector.