The US economy is still on the slow road to recovery, and no one is more aware of the fact than those small businesses owners who have watched their customer base dwindle. In response, many enterprising small business owners are considering expanding into international markets.
In recent years, growing economies like China and India have witnessed the emergence of extremely large middle classes which barely existed prior to the current boom in Asia. There are unprecedented markets out there, just waiting to be tapped.
Sounds intimidating? It does not have to be. Here are some tips on running a successful global small business:
1. Network with existing customers. A good way to discover suitable markets overseas is to ask existing customers or partners whether they require your support in international markets. This kind of expansion provides ready income and significantly reduces initial risks.
2. Look for local funding opportunities. The expansion of business beyond your own boundaries is in your government’s best interest. Look into funding and incentives for businesses interested in going global including grants and loans from the federal and local governments.
3. Seek out local partners/franchises. Try to find someone who already runs a business in the country of your choice. By partnering with them you can save the money needed to set up your own business there. An added plus is that a local businessman is familiar with local laws and regulations as well as the country’s culture. If you hook up with an established local businessman or franchise, you will not only be saving yourself funds but many headaches as well.
4. At the beginning, rely on virtual offices. These days you don’t need to run an office in the country of your choice – you can simply offer your services through a virtual office. If, for example, you are interested in the Chinese market, hire a Chinese speaker, acquire a Chinese or international phone number, and get the business rolling. If business picks up you can then invest in a local office and staff.
5. Maximize global sourcing. If you want to keep your prices competitive, seek out the best manufacturing/staffing deals in China or other Asian countries. Cut down on staffing costs by establishing a sales center in India or the Philippines. Take a look at your opportunities worldwide and take advantage of lower prices to give yourself an edge over your competitors.