"Think locally, act globally." That was said by John Naisbitt in his book Global Paradox. There is a great deal of wisdom in his book. Today, it is difficult not to consider the global implications of what we do and how we act. Naisbitt was touting the entrepreneur in this book as the 21st century power player. He points out that it is easy to identify the big business global players, but not so easy to identify the small, entrepreneurial global players. However, much like right here in the USA, small business really is the economic power house in terms of employment and innovation.
If you offer goods or services; imported, exported or serviced across national boarders you qualify in my book as a global player. Here's a few simple steps to take charge of your global business and get noticed.
Get a passport now if you don't have one. When traveling globally on business you may need a visa, there are a number of services that can help. I use Expertvisa.com.
Recent global economic issues have diminished the level of trust that used to exist. Consider two tools if importing: Irrevocable Letter of Credit or Documentary Collections. Ask your bank for details.
If possible hire someone that represents you and lives in the country where you are sourcing or providing products and services.
You should establish a contact plan that takes into account any time zone difference. In our case when talking to Europe or Asia, we usually do it in the evening when it is first thing in the morning there. We have a regular call set up with Asia just to maintain communications.
If there is a language barrier, use email and get an interpreter to participate in your calls. In domestic business there is a lot of nuance that is lost in translation and this goes both ways.
Find a non-competitor that is doing business in areas you are considering already. Ask questions and then keep that contact handy as the effort unfolds.
At my company, it is difficult for us to be competitive individually on global shipping. This can become a competitive disadvantage when competing with the big guys. So, we are forming an alliance of small to mid-sized importers to provide better rates and robust technology. While in its infancy, the numbers look really good.
Learn global negotiating techniques. Through interpreters, mentors and by learning lessons over time this will prove invaluable.
In some countries bribery may be considered acceptable, just remember it isn't here. We do not compromise on our principles. While this may seem like a disadvantage for us, I think it is advantageous in the long run.
Technologies have made the planet smaller. If no aspect of your business is global, then consider if there are ways you can move into a global position.
Learn more tips about running a global business.