If you’re taking your small business across borders, you’ll need to know how to handle a range of new challenges…
The opportunities presented by the international business landscape are available to players of every shape and size. With that in mind, there’s no reason not to consider the prospect of taking your small business global: modern technology, transport, and communication infrastructures mean that you’ll be able to reach markets of millions of new customers… so long as you’re also prepared to tackle an array of new challenges.
Small businesses don’t have the same margin for error as their enterprise counterparts so, if you’re preparing to expand your global footprint – or even just thinking about it – check out this list of the 5 most important expansion tips, before you make the leap…
Search for support
As a small business owner, it’s unlikely you’re planning to dive into an international expansion blind – but beyond conducting thorough market research, it’s also well worth exploring the public and private support and incentives available to your for the specific purpose of global growth. Government authorities or NGOs are a great place to start, but there are options at every level: the International Trade Association and The World Bank, amongst many others, offer resources in the form of advice and financial initiatives perfect for small businesses lining up an international growth project.
Build a mobility plan
Taking a business across borders almost always involves developing some sort of global mobility plan to handle employees’ administrative, professional, and personal needs. Your global mobility plan needs to be comprehensive, incorporating everything from the immigration administration process, to tax and payroll issues, and residential needs. Depending on the size of your deployment, and the scope of your mobility plan, it may be worth hiring a global mobility manager in a dedicated role.
Prioritize IT compliance
It should be no surprise that your expansion will involve adapting to a significantly different compliance environment. Beyond ensuring employees are trained in local laws and legislation, your compliance efforts must also include your IT infrastructure. Practically, you’ll need to offer your employees IT compliance training tailored to your target location, and conduct a thorough software audit and upgrade.
Understand the culture
Your business won’t just have to adapt to a new legal landscape, but to its cultural surroundings. This means understanding both the business and social culture of your expansion location, including work hours, statutory holidays, and religious practices. Your employees may need to be offered cultural training in order to adapt to their environments – language training may be an especially useful option.
Be ready to scale
Plan for the long term – and be ready to scale your business for growth in its new location. The easiest way to scale in an unfamiliar territory is to engage an outsource organisation to handle business-critical processes like payroll and HR. Outsourcing represents not only pre-packaged procedural efficiency and compliance expertise, but is a way to develop a tailored solution to your business’ unique global needs.