Going Global Offers Growth Opportunity for Small Businesses

41190798 - global business people commuter walking success growth concept

41190798 – global business people commuter walking success growth concept

Looking for ways to increase your business growth? You may want to look outside the United States. Ninety-five percent of the world’s purchasing power lies outside U.S. borders, yet according to the Small Business Administration, less than one percent of America’s nearly 30 million small businesses are involved in exporting. According to a study by the Institute for International Economics, U.S. companies that export not only grow faster, but are nearly 8.5 percent less likely to go out of business than non-exporting companies.

As I travel across the country speaking to small and mid-sized businesses about growth opportunities, I frequently hear a reluctance to do business internationally because of the complexities involved with international trade. I can certainly understand those concerns if the nature of the small business requires a physical presence or personnel in a foreign country. However today, many small businesses are conducting their businesses online which means the minute you’re “open for business” you have the ability to reach consumers around the globe.

The founders of Dream Beard, Ryan and Brittany Lane, started their business onlogo Birttany’s father’s dinning room table. The company which provides products for men’s facial hair is one of the first of its kind and it grew very quickly. Four months after they started they had sold products in over 35 countries.

“If you are in e-commerce, I would ask ‘Why not?’ Why not case your net into bigger waters?”, says Ryan Lane.

To be successful in the global market, here are five tips to keep in mind.

  1.  Be prepared to fulfill shipments quickly.  Demand from customers, whether domestic or international, is exciting, but if you can’t get your product to them in a timely and cost effective manner, you run the risk of losing business and damaging your brand. There are myriad resources on the Internet that provide logistical support. Shop around to see which one best fits your business needs. The Ryan’s, who say they had no clue what they were doing in the business, turned to Federal Express.  “When we went into the international market, we knew we wanted something reliable and fast. We didn’t have any experience, but we knew they had all the experience in the world, and we could tap into that. We see ourselves as a premium brand, and we wanted to partner with a premium brand.”
  2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Often times eager small business owners jump at every opportunity which results in poor performance. Begin your global growth by focusing on one country for starters to ensure your domestic business is kept in order. Additionally, do your research to make sure your product fits with the country’s culture. I remember when my friend, Margaret McEntire, started franchising her business, Candy Bouquet, in the Middle East, she learned not all her products would fly. A shipment of cupid ornaments to her franchisees was held-up and eventually destroyed because cupid is no acceptable in that culture.  Even your website colors can be interpreted differently so choose wisely.
  3. Learn the market and adapt to its customs and regulations. You need to be somewhat knowledgeable about how customers is handled in the countries you’re doing business with. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the rules and regulations of a foreign country, you’re ot alone. Luckily there are resources available.  You can get information on regulatory requirements and export compliance for overseas markets on export.gov.
  4. Evolve your business to sustain international success. The global marketplace is constantly evolving and so it’s wise to continue developing your business to stay ahead. To grow and develop further, put in place clear milestones such as sales targets and invest in training and development for your team. Ensure you have an overall objective and goals with a realistic time-frame. Flexibility and being able to quickly and effectively adapt to the evolving market is crucial. By utilizing technology and making sure your team is full trained you’ll be able to respond quickly to growing demand and go where your customers are.
  5. Leverage social media. Having a strong social media presence is a must if you’re becoming a global company.  Making the decision to build an online brand can be a defining moment for sales.  Social media provides small businesses with an ideal platform that does not require a six figure marketing budget.

So open your virtual doors to a global marketplace and watch your business soar. Just be sure to find the right partners and do your homework.