Thanks to the Internet and the globalization all boundaries started to disappear in the trading and business world. For any size company it is becoming much easier to reach new markets, and customers to sell their products, as well as locating vendors. Even though it sounds like there are endless of opportunities; international business has many challenges. Especially if it is a small or mid size businesses, you are taking a bigger risk than you think. There are many obstacles when going global. Here are the top 5 challenges that small businesses may experience when doing international business:
Laws & Regulations: Every country has their own regulations and laws set up and it will be your obligation to know them. Importers and exporters must be aware of international laws. Research should be the first thing you do after deciding to go global with your small/mid size company. Some products may be banned in some countries and even though you may not be aware of these restrictions, your company will end up in trouble if you ship those products.
Cost: This is one of the key factors that will drive you and your company towards international business. You must calculate all possible costs that may be incur. How do you get the products delivered in the most economical way? This is the question that you must find the most accurate answer for. At the end of the day if the total cost will be more then your expectation you may reconsider taking the risks of opening your door to international business.
Communication Difficulties and Cultural Differences: Your business partners overseas may not speak the languages that you know and this could be another barrier to your business. You may think, “that’s what Google Translate is for”? Well, it might be a small help, for phrases like hello and thank you, however Google Translate is not 100 % accurate. Successful communication is the key factor in everything in our lives, and if you can not communicate effectively – how do you expect to sell or buy the correct products in the right amounts? The transactions may not go as smooth as you would ideally like it to be. Let’s also not forget obstacles you may experience due to cultural differences. Your relationships with people from other cultures are enhanced when you are aware of cultural differences such as communication styles, religious beliefs, power structures, and attitudes toward time and work. Therefore for study and try to understand the country’s cultural structure before you decide to do business there.
Payment Methods and Currency Rate: These are other obstacles that the small business owner must address before accepting or placing international orders. Countries may have different payment methods that are locally popular, but may not be commonly used internationally. In order to secure your business always select the safest option for you. The currency exchange rate is also of importance. You must be aware of the currency exchange rates at the time of buying or selling your products. Drastical changes on the exchange rates may hit your business. We all know that every penny counts for small businesses, so why risk it?
Choosing the Right Shipping Method: How to ship the cargo in a timely, safe and cost effective fashion? Which option would be best for you and your goods: Air, LCL or FCL? These questions may seem complicated if you are new to the shipping industry. When getting started you may want to reduce the risk and work with 3PL’s as they have the logistics experience, knowledge, and software a small company does not have, and they cost less than hiring employees with such expertise.
After putting these challenges on the table and sorting them out, should you or shouldn’t you go global? I think there is no one right answer to this. As a small business owner I highly suggest you evaluate all these elements and look at your business and your market, as well as the risks and opportunities. Then decide if which outweighs the other.