Just last week I was fortunate to be part of the Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference in Orlando, Florida, where I participated in a round-table discussion titled “In-Country Best Practices: Global Business Growth and Lessons Learned.” We shared various strategies for WBEs to successfully grow and expand into global markets, with special focus on understanding and navigating best practices for working in those countries.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the panel ever since, and wanted to point out some of the most interesting results from our conversations.
When all is said and done, my key takeaway from this session was that when it comes to best practices for launching in a global marketplace, there were far more similarities between countries than there were differences. Many of the same standards and expectations cross over from country to country, and what is good business in one location is also very likely to be good business across the border.
Of course, there are pivotal distinctions and many differing details. But overall, we aren’t as different as it may seem.
Review of Best Practices
Some of the in-country best practices apply no matter which country you are planning to operate in and will be integral to your success.
- Do Your Research. When entering into any global market, you need to know what to expect. Research the labor laws and practices, as well as banking and taxation. Find out the timeline for setting up your business, and understand the requirements before you begin the process, learning the costs for incorporating, acquiring property, and to begin operations.
- Know the Legal Structure. Legal advice when starting a business abroad is even more important than at home. Your best resource could be an experienced expat attorney from your country who is living and working where you plan to launch. This lawyer can help translate cultural assumptions to work and thrive in a foreign environment. In addition, consider reaching out to trade commissioners and their team of experts in your target region for insight.
- Consider Global Logistics. Verify requirements for labeling, packaging, tariffs, and import restrictions, and what effect that will have on distribution. Not all your tools will work in every market. Marketing automation software and payment solutions are two of the systems that you should be sure to confirm.
- Develop Specific Strategy & Business Plan. “Each market has its own nuances due to economic, cultural, and governmental conditions. It is important to develop a localized strategy and business plan that drives local success while remaining integrated with the overall corporate strategy and objectives.” Forbes goes on to describe what should be included in the short-, medium-, and long-term strategies that will inform your company’s success.
- Enlist Help From Local Teams. Harvard Business Review cites failure to hear from local teams as “one of the most disappointing mistakes” a company can make. To hire highly competent teams to serve an overseas market without considering input and observations from these local partners and salespeople is to miss out on a valuable perspective. These local teams can be your most insightful, credible advisers if you listen to what they have to say.
- Verify Your Partners. It’s important to know who you are working with and that you can trust them with key aspects of your business, particularly when operating in a country that is unfamiliar to you. Learn about their background and core values to be sure that they are the right collaborators for this endeavor.
- Leverage Your Resources. There’s nothing that speaks more strongly to the potential of your business than your willingness to invest in professional help for areas that you do not excel in, to maximize the impact of the strengths that you do have. Speaking with an international trade attorney and finding an experienced international bank are two ways to minimize errors in the early days, allowing you to better focus on the core aspects of your business.
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