How to Manage an International Business
Running and managing an international business is no small feat. Some of the challenges that such a business is likely to present include different currencies, cultural differences, traveling, financial constraints, and even unfair business practices, among others. The aforementioned challenges can stretch the patience and resilience of even the most experienced business executive. With that in mind, here are some great tips that you can use to manage an international business.
One of the first things you need to do is to recruit a team of employees who are very familiar with the international business landscape. For instance, you need a person with a good grasp of international financial transactions and international money market. Such an employee would be able to help your business navigate through the murky waters of international taxes and other related costs, such as international shipping costs. According to the CEO of a supply chain-consulting firm, Jim Tompkins, taxes alone can cause a price difference of up to 25% for goods imported or exported to another country. Therefore, by recruiting an expert in cost saving transit options, your company’s bottom line would be more likely to remain healthy.
Transacting business globally also involves many legal aspects. Therefore, it would be wise to bring on board an attorney with a good knowledge of corporate and international business law. Sound legal advice is particularly important when singing contracts and agreements with clients as well as ensuring your business does not breach patent laws in other countries. Such an attorney would also devise legal strategies to defend your business against potential lawsuits abroad.
Communication and Collaboration
Traveling abroad occasionally to meet clients and customers may not be enough to build strong business relationships with such people. However, technology has made communication across different countries a breeze. For example, you can use Skype to monitor your employees working abroad. Additionally, if your company has employees in other countries, you need a way of collaborating with each other. Fortunately, cloud computing service providers such as DropBox and Box make it easier for people to send and share large files. One of the key advantages of using web-based service providers is that it is relatively inexpensive. For example, a business VoIP service only requires an internet connection to work. You do not have to worry about roaming costs.
Since most global businesses have a website, it would be wise to take search engine optimization (SEO) seriously. If you are not able to handle the SEO yourself, hire a professional. Although some businesses rush to invest in search engine marketing (SEM), SEO tends to deliver better results over time. Figures published by Intraspin show that 40% of SEO campaigns deliver return on investment (ROI) of up to 500%. In comparison, only 22% of pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns achieve the same milestone. These statistics show that reaching out to consumers online can change the fortunes of any business.
You do not have to staff your business with homegrown expertise. You can cut the wage bill by hiring skilled workers on-demand. For example, it is easy to hire highly skilled software programmers from countries in Eastern Europe and Asia. The same is true for copywriters, blog writers, accountants, and even SEO experts. By outsourcing certain tasks, you can focus on core business activities and operations. Another benefit is the ability to run your business 24/7 if you outsource to a country in a different time zone. Finally, you can hire employees cyclically to meet increased consumer demands especially during Christmas or Easter holidays. After these busy periods, you can lay off the workers without having to worry about pension funds or employee unions.
Overall, the challenges associated with running an international business should not deter you from exploring new business opportunities abroad. However, you should take into account factors such as communication and collaboration, outsourcing, SEO, as well as recruiting skilled personnel. At the same time, do not lose sight of your customer’s needs. Invest in data analysis of consumer preferences and buying habits before shipping a product abroad.
Joshua Turner is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to business. In this article, he offers a few tips to managing an international business and aims to encourage further study with a masters in international relations and diplomacy.