It has been a global marketplace since forever, all you needed was the vision, guts, and usually a fair bit of seed money to extend the reach of your business beyond your own borders.
As the internet and access to the internet are reaching a point where it’s considered a commodity, the latter two elements (guts and seed money) are becoming less and less inhibiting factors to running a global business. In fact, the rise of As A Service offerings in the market means you can build a business empire from the comfort of your home, sort of speak.
What still is needed, however, is a vision on how you will reach global domination. Here are a few key areas to think about.
With a product offering or service in mind, you will need to think of where your potential customers are. There is usually always a base need that can be fulfilled, but in different countries, and therefore, different cultures, the ‘how’ element of how this base need should be fulfilled can be different.
Let’s say you have a service that is completely internet-based, and consumers access it via a web browser. Say you have built it entirely on desktop resolution, and it’s flying in your home country. You identify a need for your product in India, for example, and after launch, you find less than stellar performance. This could be down to the fact that Indian people don’t have desktops but rather consume the internet (and products) via mobile devices. There is also language and tone of voice that can make a massive difference.
Next to your consumer base, you will have to think of varying rules and regulations that might be in place locally. If you provide a physical product, for example, you will need to take into account cooldown periods and typical returns behavior.
Germany is well known for its protective legislation geared towards consumers. Most companies that conduct business in Germany experience higher returns rates that need to be considered in the company’s infrastructure. Another thing to consider is your financial infrastructure for dealing with income, tax payments, and dealing with suppliers. Find international money transfer options that keep transactional costs down and deliver speed in delivery.
And although plenty can be done with outsourced capability, it being suppliers or as a service 3rd parties, at one point expansion will come with an international workforce. Being successful here means being able to manage people from different backgrounds and cultures. There are libraries full of books that can explain the finer differences between a Japanese and a French person. That’s not to say you need to go read all these books, but a cursory knowledge of what to do and, more importantly, what not to do goes a long way in people management.
Where a Japanese colleague will not tell you something but will drop hints, a Dutch person will usually tell you something directly. Taking these things into consideration means you can communicate more effectively and therefore build your global business bigger and better than ever before.