Business is chugging along at a fast clip, the cash register is cheerfully ringing and happy smiles greet you at the office every morning. It’s all good, right? We don’t mean to burst your bubble but here’s the thing – you might be getting complacent.
Many start-ups that have had the big-bang beginning have taken their growth to the next level, and they got there only because they didn’t kick up their heels and bask in the good times. So if it’s business as usual, it might actually be the right time to go international. And guess what? It’s not all that difficult.
In the age of globalisation, expanding internationally gives you access to other economies and a wider client base. This increases business opportunities by leaps and bounds. Don’t get bogged down with the complexities of dealing with international regulations, the language barrier or cultural differences.
Remember, you’d be headed where millions of others have gone before. Wasn’t Facebook born in a college dorm?
So if you are thinking about taking that next big step, here’s something you might want to consider.
STEP 1: It’s All In Your Mind
Most start-ups that have bootstrapped feel intimidated by the mere thought of going international. Here’s a typical thought, “Oh! We’re too small to even consider globalisation.” You couldn’t be farther from the truth. Technology has made it possible to take your business international from a nascent stage. In fact, the world has been taken by storm by a host of micro-multinationals that went global on day one.
STEP 2: Choose The Right Market
You cannot give the globe a spin and build aspirations out of thin air. You have to carry out enough due diligence and decide which market is best suited for a product like yours. Most start-ups make the mistake of entering a market because they have know a local distributor or two there. While it may work in some cases, this is not the ideal way to enter into a market. A better way is to identify one or two geographies that are best suited to your expansion plans and then look for local distributors or partners. With a lot of information available on the internet today, it’s not difficult to research this yourself.
STEP 3: Acquaint Yourself With Local Rules & Regulations
This is the trickiest part. You will need to research the regulatory environment in the country you target. Every country has different trade regulations, import duties, etc that could be cumbersome and time-consuming. Simple processes might get stuck in red tape or a logistical whirlwind. For instance, you could be either required to pay very high import duty to ship ping your goods there or bribe your way to make inroads. This is not only stressful, it will end up burning a hole in your pocket you cannot afford.
STEP 4: Figure Out The Payment Node
Here’s a detail you are likely to miss while doing your groundwork – payment. For start ups that are likely to have smaller ticket transactions, it’s is a good idea to create a PayPal account or make use of American Express FX International. These are the most widely used options when it comes to overseas payments. If neither works for the country you're entering into a trade agreement with, find out what the mode of payments are upfront, so that there aren’t any rude shocks later!
STEP 5: Get A Lawyer To Draft Your Contract
The distributor you choose probably represents many others like you, and you don’t want your product being ignored because of a competitor’s product. You can hire a lawyer who can draw up a contract that mentions specifics such as sales targets. Negotiating yourself could be hairy if you do not have experience in this area.
If you cannot find the right resources or simply do not know where to search, use social networking platforms. You can find quite a few groups on international trade and regulations that are appropriate. Join a group like LinkedIn, which will lead you to like-minded people who can help. While this is the most cost effective way, you may also hire an international trade consultancy firm. This is an expensive option as fees range from Rs 2-5 lakh, depending on the country you want to do business in.