If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner who has grown their business domestically and is seriously considering conducting more of your business abroad, congratulations!
You are a part of the resilient 20% of new businesses that make it past their first year in operation, and now it’s time for your next big move. Looking to expand operations and make meaningful connections abroad is crucial in today’s increasingly global work environment, as nearly two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power lies outside of the United States.
Businesses with an eye on a global marketplace experience a wide range of benefits that can directly propel corporate growth and revenue. In a recent joint survey hosted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) and World Bank, organizations that trade internationally report feeling more confident in the current and future state of their business. Of the 14 participating countries included in the most recent OECD data released in the first quarter of 2017, nine report business creation that is trending upwards.
Making the decision to go global can open many doors for your burgeoning brand and requires some strategic planning to make sure the transition goes smoothly. Below are several key tips to consider when conducting business abroad.
Build your network
As professionals, it is easy to feel berated by the seemingly constant advice to network. Do not get discouraged by the noise as networking is truly an invaluable resource for anyone, but especially for an entrepreneur trying to make connections in a completely new environment. Hiring expert and LinkedIn influencer Lou Adler recently conducted a study of 3,000 current professionals and found that a whopping 85% of jobs were filled via networking efforts.
However, successful networking requires you to hone in on the right contacts and events for your professional goals. Trying to attend every networking event in a new city, especially a large one, is a momentous waste of time and resources that could have been well spent at a more targeted event. Tailor your search for in-person networking events that tap into your true interests, and research participation and sponsorship opportunities to see if what they do align with your business model.
While meeting face-to-face is of course an effective way to make meaningful connections, do not discount the power of the current social media landscape in your search for potential partners and mentors. Identify social media platforms whose members and users possess unique insights and represent reciprocal value for a possible connection.
Working to create a solid global network not only directly helps your business ventures, but can provide an additional support system during a hectic schedule. Adjusting for time changes, possible hotel and transportation snafus, and cultural differences can be difficult to tackle alone on a long business trip. Having global connections who you can rely on to guide your through makes the time away from home more enjoyable, and in turn more positive and productive.
Traveling alone? Travel Smart
You’ve finally made some key global connections and are ready to conquer a new city. For even the most seasoned traveler, business travel can be especially stressful as you have a packed schedule filled with location changes and last-minute transportation requests. Harness the power of your smart phone to make trip planning simple and quick, leaving more time to focus on what really matters—expanding your business.
A study by Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the GBTA foundation recently shared that the cost of global travel is set to increase worldwide in 2018, with a predicted increase of 3.5% in airline fares, 3.7% in hotel rates, and 1.6% in ground transportation. There are hundreds of travel-focused apps, but a few that stand out as particularly useful for the business traveler.
If you’re called into a last minute meeting across the world, use the flight-booking app Hopper to find the most economical deal. This app allows you to follow flight costs and sends alerts when the price is right to grab a great seat. For U.S.-based entrepreneurs looking to slash business expenses business, app Upside provides several benefits. Created by Jay Walker, the creative mind behind Priceline and other successful ventures, Upside features packaged deals for flights and hotels, and in turn rewards participating members with gift cards to over 50 retailers and restaurants nation-wide.
Utilizing the many readily available tools for travelers will help save valuable time and money, but ultimately it is up to you to set a reasonable business expense plan and stick to it. It may seem difficult to plan ahead in a fast-paced environment but when the opportunity arises, it will make international travel easier in the long run.
There are many critical aspects to consider when planning to expand your business abroad. From cultural differences to financial complexities such as international tax and employment regulations, proactive business owners need to carefully plan their international dealings and effectively grow their network. Focusing on curating relationships abroad, be it by social platforms or networking events, and making an effort to cut down on travel expenses is a good start.
Author: Mark Stanich is President and CXO of Eleqt Group, and has worked in the luxury marketing and strategy spaces for both Fortune 500 and early stage growth companies.