Entrepreneurs Offer Advice on When You Should Be Doing Business Internationally

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So, you have your business up and running. You may have clients around you area and perhaps even some from different states. But once your business becomes more profitable and steady it makes sense to open your borders a little more. That’s when the idea of doing business on an international level comes in. Of course, with new borders comes a new pile of questions. How do you speak with customers most efficiently about the product? Logistics like shipping and costs always may color your outlook on doing business on a broader scale. Most importantly – when is the best time to start doing business on an international level?


Photo Credit: Lisa Murray
Photo Credit: Lisa Murray

The right timing will differ

Every business will differ on the ‘right' timing of doing business internationally – for some that time doesn't exist and for others that's where it's best to start! I started Creativity Lab with the intention that it would go global and within six months found a number of people who would host the events overseas. We have our first two international events in May, less than twelve months after the business started. As Creativity Lab is a people oriented business, it is not so much about ‘right' timing, as building robust relationships with people who are inspired by the vision and have the capacity to contribute to building it into something even greater with ease and joy.

Thanks to Lisa Murray, Creativity Lab

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You must evaluate a few key factors

Doing business overseas is an excellent way for a company to expand its market and grow; however, if a company starts doing business internationally before it is ready, the consequences can be detrimental, and even fatal. Before a company begins doing business internationally, it must first evaluate a few key factors and analyze its ability to cope. The first and most obvious issue that arises from doing business internationally is communication. A company must assess its ability to communicate effectively in a long-distance capacity, overcome a possible language barrier and determine if it should employ translators to facilitate the business interactions. Also, differences in culture can create issues. A company should have a firm understanding of business etiquette in other countries and gauge the feasibility of conducting business under those circumstances before deciding to engage internationally. A company should evaluate the market of the countries it is seeking to enter and determine its relevancy to the business. The business should have clearly defined goals and an exit strategy in case the international market doesn’t pan out. It should understand the social, economic and political environment of the countries in which it seeks to expand and evaluate factors such as corporate taxes, availability of electricity, building permits, personal freedom and currency exchange. A company should start doing business internationally only after evaluating these and other potentially relevant factors and determining that the business environments are favorable, and that success is likely.

Thanks to Christopher Sardone, TeliApp

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Photo Credit: Dr. Nir Buras
Photo Credit: Dr. Nir Buras

Do it now!

Building international business relationships and setting the framework for foreign launches can begin early, and without any international marketing campaigns. My current focus is local and national marketing, but having international beta participants and courting international investors for my online architectural crowd-sourcing service sets the stage for growth in international markets in the future. Beginning and maintaining inroads into foreign markets early-on also means that the business grows with a global audience in mind, so potential transitions to the international market may go more smoothly. Perhaps I’m just too impatient in my ambitions, but there is no time like the present.

Thanks to Dr. Nir Buras, QTECT


Photo Credit: Kristin Ford
Photo Credit: Kristin Ford

Whenever you can

Whenever you can! There were a couple of situations which were pretty natural expansions for my business. One was to simply begin working with organizations/corporations that are US based, but are global in scope and the other was to source solutions overseas. I have done both. The world marketplace is much more accessible and much smaller than it used to be with technology, skype, and virtual meetings. People are the same all over the world. Although of course there are cultural and language needs to take into consideration, people are people and have the same needs to be met. Overall I have found technology based solutions to be more robust, developed more rapidly, and less expensive for the end user.

Thanks to Kristin Ford, Best in Learning


Photo Credit: Alec Lynch
Photo Credit: Alec Lynch

If there is a global market for your service, go global

It's never been easier to start a global business. The Internet has removed borders for entrepreneurs. The world is now flat. If you have an idea, a credit card and a laptop you can now set up a website and start selling internationally within days. The question is: should you? In my opinion, yes. If the market for your service is global, then you should go global. This is particularly the case if you're based outside of the US. I started in Australia ‘out of the garage' and was making sales to UK and US clients within a few months. We now have 100,000 designers from around the world, 20 staff in 3 countries and we are approaching $10M in projects. The US is our biggest source of sales. Attempting to grow an inte rnational business is harder but more lucrative. If you're going to start a business, think big and go global. Forgot the country you're in and pursue the business you want.

Thanks to Alec Lynch,

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Photo Credit: Patrick S. Dine
Photo Credit: Patrick S. Dine

Make sure your product or service is proven in your home market

Companies often wait too long or not enough time before going international. Just as expanding too fast and too much domestically can cause a company to struggle financially so can expanding into global markets without being ready. Having worked with thousands of companies – especially small to medium sized ones – on their international strategies, I can recommend a few key tips. 1.) make sure your product or service is proven in your home market and you are ready to provide the same quality overseas, i.e. shipping. 2.) Make sure you research your competitors and potential partners carefully so you don't offer something that the market doesn't want or hire a partner that will not produce for you and 3.) make sure you are ready to be in it for the long haul, commit to going international and stick with it. Then, you can truly succeed and the world is your market.

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Thanks to Patrick S. Dine, PSD Global


Photo Credit: Lis Dingjan
Photo Credit: Lis Dingjan


Immediately! The world we live in is a global world. Everything is now only a click away and you can conduct so much of your business through the amazing resources now available to us. Life coaching? Use a video chat service like Skype. Selling jewellery? Set up an eCommerce website or join an online marketplace like Etsy and you'll instantly reach hundreds and thousands more people than staying in your local spot. I help people create business identities along with website and print design. My clients are located all over the world. You're excluding the bigger proportion of the world by not going international and that means you're missing out on a lot of potential income and the chance to get your product or service out to a wider audience. Even if your business is purely local based (i.e. a trades business or a cupcake cafe) and you can't expand it internationally in it's current format, think about how you can reach a n international audience through other means. If you have expertise in that area how about selling a video training series or an ebook to the world? Have you started a blog about your knowledge? Beautiful recipe cards? DIY kits? There is always a way to go international and build multiple streams of income – start now!

Thanks to Lis Dingjan, The Identity


Photo Credit: Kari DePhillips
Photo Credit: Kari DePhillips

When potential clients demand it

When you provide services instead of products, sometimes the best time to expand your business to the international market is when the potential clients demand it – and you have the time to devote. About 15% of our website traffic comes from other countries, and we have clients from Singapore, Russia, New Zealand and Australia. The biggest issue to note: the hours are crazy, and 7a or 9p conference calls are not exactly uncommon. And there are lots of calls, particularly when there's a language barrier issue. There's usually a lot more paperwork required, and mailing things back and forth tends to take significantly longer. Working with international companies is very time consuming, but has been completely worth the effort in my experience.

Thanks to Kari DePhillips, The Content Factory

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Photo Credit: Dominik Knoll
Photo Credit: Dominik Knoll

The time to act is now

In today’s global economy, the importance of U.S. businesses doing business internationally cannot be understated. While the United States is the world’s largest economy, more than 95% of the world’s consumers are located outside of the United States. It’s likely that your competitors are taking advantage of this incredibly profitable market, and you should be too. Excluding your business from the vast financial opportunities provided by international trade can prevent your business from operating at its full potential. Businesses that export to global markets typically have faster sales growth, create more jobs, and their employees earn more than in non-exporting companies. Even better, U.S. companies that export grow faster and are nearly 8.5% less likely to go out of business than non-exporting businesses. I personally joined the World Trade Center as CEO to ensure that the resources businesses need in order to access international markets are easier to get to than ever before. I want to see small businesses in my community and all over the U.S. flourish as they make the most of international trade. These small businesses should start doing business internationally immediately; less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export, leaving a huge market untapped. There are many resources available through the U.S. Commercial Service, World Trade Centers, and other government programs that can help your business navigate that opportunities and challenges of trading internationally. The time to act is now.

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Thanks to Dominik Knoll, World Trade Center of New Orleans


Photo Credit: Jameson Brandon
Photo Credit: Jameson Brandon

It depends on your product/service

I feel it depends on your product/service. If you can provide your product/service digitally then you should start from day 1 if not then there are other growth cycles that should be hit first to ensure proper fulfillment on physical products/services. It is much easier then one would think to cater to international traffic. Things like translation options on your site, multiple means of payment processing and tools and tech like Skype and Google hangout allow you to deliver world wide in the digital space.

Thanks to Jameson Brandon, Digital Centrix


Photo Credit: Rhonda Cort
Photo Credit: Rhonda Cort

Now is the time

The moment I became an entrepreneur, I was doing business internationally. I have had the privilege of living internationally for 10 years, working with men, women, companies and governments from 70 nations. There is more opportunity to business internationally now than when I first started, especially if your business is online or service-based. With so many emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India and China, the marketplace is infinite and pulsating with opportunity. Today, doing business internationally is more attractive and made simpler because we have access to the Internet, video conferencing, virtual assistants and global networking groups. I have clients I have never met in countries I have never visited. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs never consider tapping into international markets. My top 3 reasons? They don’t know where to start. They think it is an enormous, capital-intensive project. They don’t speak the language and are not familiar with the culture. None of these should be an obstacle. The smaller the business, the more agile it is to make fast decisions and enter new markets. “Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

Thanks to Rhonda Cort, Magnetic Woman International


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