Small business owners can no longer afford to shun global business opportunities. Studies show that the United States represents about 5% of the world’s consuming population, which means that 95% of opportunities lie outside the nation’s borders. What’s more is that about 95% of U.S. exporters are small to medium-sized businesses.
While global opportunities abound, before embarking on any international journey, you need to know where you are going and what to do when you get there. For starters, it’s important to do your homework and ask a number of questions to determine if there’s a market of people willing and able to buy your goods.
To find out what is the one thing that small business owners can do to take their businesses abroad or make their businesses more global, BlackEnterprise.com polled members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Here are their candid answers:
1. Get on a Plane
Get on a plane. I am constantly making introductions and building relationships all over the world. Although technology makes global communication easier, I believe that in-person communication gives you the best opportunity to build your business internationally. Showing up to a meeting 8,000 miles away creates trust and shows commitment.
2. Adjust Your Website
There are really valuable tools that exist to help you change the verbiage on your website to any language. If you want to be a global company or brand, then speak to people in their native tongue. Don’t expect potential customers from overseas to try and translate your value proposition on your website.
3. Open Up Your Marketing
With most major platforms, if you offer a product you can sell internationally, you can target any country and demographic within that country. For example, Facebook lets you do just that. You can also open up your PPC (pay-per-click) in Google globally, which can bring exposure within minutes and biddings high enough for first page rankings.
4. Determine What “Global” Means to Your Company
First, determine what “global” means to your business. Does it mean acquiring clients outside of your local market? Accessing talent in cost-competitive locations? Sourcing materials overseas? Based on this, you’ll make very different decisions on how to “go global” surrounding what type of partnerships to engage in, and the level of local market involvement you’ll actually need to be successful.
5. Prepare Your Website
Make sure your website can reach an international audience. Research country-specific sites, and purchase relevant domain names for the countries that you are targeting. It’s critical to ensure that your website is easily converted to the correct language. Also, utilize market research to understand your target consumer across the global and be cognizant of cultural differences.
6. Adopt a Global Mindset
Alongside all the strategic and tactical things, one of the most foundational is for you (and your employees) to THINK more globally. Thinking and beingmore global typically requires a more open, expanded mindset and approach that go far beyond any boundaries you might have previously been operating within.
7. Pay to Play
Go international. Find distributors in your channel and start reaching out early in the business. Put your name on the map — and more clearly, on their mind — so when the time is right, they’ll know who you are. If you can afford it, go to international trade shows as well. Pay to play. And, if you believe in your product and your brand, you’ll find those partners to grow your business.
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