U.S. small businesses are increasingly joining the big corporations in expanding beyond the borders to do business internationally. The growth opportunities are significant, but the challenges are also many, since small U.S. businesses don't have the same resources as the big companies.
Thus, here are 5 things to know for doing business internationally:
1) Get help. As we just mentioned -- as small business owners and managers, you don't have the same resources as the big companies that do business internationally. You need help navigating international political waters, local customers and even language barriers. Align a team of pros to help you through consultation. Through banking relationships, ask for an international expert. When visiting countries to explore business, get a local guide for navigation.
2) It isn't easy. The rewards are often high, but so are the demands. Exporting and importing, for instances, faces many laws and regulations. You need to understand that it will be challenging, in many respects, and likely throughout the process. The rewards, however, are often high.
3) Exude humility. In many regions, Asia in particular, humility pays an ever higher dividend than it does in the states. An attitude is usually a ticket to a losing proposition when doing business internationally. Respect humility, and use it liberally.
4) Build personal network and nurture relationships. Don't just land in a country, hit a meeting and go home. Invite contacts to lunch, or dinner. Ask them to tell you about the country, and different places you can go to see, experience and learn. Tell them subsequently about what you liked. Cultivate and build relationships, so that you can build trust.
5) Listen before doing business transactions. Become an avid listener before becoming active with transactions. See the country. Get to know the people you will be selling to, or trading with. Go home, and then go back. Then you will have a better understanding, and will be better prepared.