How to Start an International Business

8 Min Read

Most businesses have plans for expansion. But expanding into an international market is a whole other ballgame. There are regulations in each country that dictate how and what kind of business you can do in that country based on your country of origin. There are also technology and logistical considerations that you wouldn’t have with a business in your own country. In spite of these challenges, more and more people are choosing to start international businesses from around the world. Here are some of the major issues you’ll need to tackle to get your international business off the ground running. Whether you are expanding an existing business or starting something new, here’s what you need to know.

Learn the Local Language

Everything is easier if you know the language. No matter where you are looking to put your international business, learning the local language is to your benefit. There are countless ways to learn. Whether you leverage an online program, a private tutor, or you fly to the country for an immersion program, don’t skip this important step. While you may not achieve fluency right away, your ability to communicate in a foreign country for your business is critical.

Learn Local Customs

In addition to the local language, learn about the local customs. This includes business customs. Do local businesses shut down for a while in the middle of the day? How are contracts processed? What can you expect in terms of service? There are many interesting questions that arise when you start working with a different culture.

Get Legal Services

You’ll need someone well versed in international laws to help you with your business. You’ll need legal help both in the country you are from and the country you’ll have your business in. This should help you stay out of any tricky legal situations that could get you into trouble. From trademarks to employment to taxes, a good international business lawyer should be an essential part of your team. A good lawyer can help you determine what you need to do about your intellectual property and to protect you from theft.

Use Legitimate Import – Export Services

If you’re doing a product-based business internationally, this will be critical for getting products to and from their destinations. Import – Export services will help manage all of the end-to-end logistics for shipping, receiving, customs, taxes and so much more. Legitimate companies offer services that can help with every aspect of the process. It’s important to find reputable companies who aren’t taking bribes or hauling things using your containers.

Employer of Record

When you are looking to expand overseas, you’ll need to hire employees. This process can be long and arduous because you’ll need to automatically set up a business entity in the new country you want to do business in. This takes a lot of time and becomes very expensive, especially for smaller businesses trying to get started in a new place. An employer of record already has a business entity around the world. They’ve already set-up shop with HR and can recruit and hire workers that help your business. They are a perfect solution for the new international business that’s not quite ready to put both feet on the ground in a new international destination.

Adequate Web Security

Website security and e-commerce security for an international business is much different. There are international laws that determine what type of security is needed for your site to comply with their regulations. This includes anything from the programs used to capture email addresses to the software used for payment processing. Web security needs to be a top priority for an international business to ensure they comply with all of the necessary regulations.

Secure Databases

In addition to web security, you need proper security on your databases. This will protect all of your business data from potential threats around the world. Secure databases mean that not only is your business data secure, but your client data is also. A good security plan will account for all the different ways a threat can come in, whether it’s through a website, an email, or some other break in the chain. When you run an international business this is so much more important because leaked data can be cause for a criminal complaint against you or your company.

A Good Business Plan

All businesses need a good business plan, but especially an international one. You need to be clear about what you’re selling and how you’re going to do it. You’ll also want a plan for where you want the business to expand to and whether you’ll create new entities in the new locations, or simply use an employer of record to get local workers. A business plan will include the products you plan to sell, where you plan to get them, your planned profits based off of researched expenses, and so much more.

A Robust Marketing Plan

Part of your business plan is your marketing plan. Once you know what you want to do, you can decide how to do it. How will you market your products and services to your target audience? Will you use social media marketing? Will you use SEO? What claims can you make? All of these should be part of your marketing plan. With an international business it’s especially important to build business relationships with people from all over the world. These connections are vital to grow and reach the right people. The marketing plan is what you’ll use to build, grow, reach new customers, and market to them.

With all the right tools in place, it’s possible to start or expand your international business. From learning the local language, to getting legal help here and abroad, you’ll need to take your time planning this one. While not as easy as opening a local shop, an international business is a rewarding and lucrative avenue that can grow into something even greater. Take your products, services, and skills overseas to create a thriving business empire that employs people near and far. 

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