What to Consider Before Taking Your SMB Global

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    E-commerce and mobile devices are making it easier for businesses to sell to a global market. Websites make it easy for shopping to happen in any time zone. Integrated online payment systems can accept and translate currencies.

    It’s no wonder that IFAC’s Global SMP Survey taken at the end of 2014 found that of the small to midsize practices, 69 percent reported that around 5 percent of their customers are international.  That may not sound like a huge number, but that is still a decent percentage of untapped sales for companies that do not currently sell beyond the U.S. borders.

    But of course, just waking up and deciding to go global isn’t likely the best way to break into the international market. A recent PitneyBowes Global Ecommerce blog post brought up 12 good points for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) to ponder prior to an attempt at gaining a global following. Some of these are more obvious, but some could equal a huge headache if not carefully considered first. From their suggestions, I’ve listed a few important areas:

    • Do your homework. Learn about exporting, financial challenges, and where in the world your products would be most in demand.
    • Decide what scares you most about going global, and then find solutions to that issue from every angle. Consult your bank if there are concerns about payments. Talk to your shipping company about potential logistics problems, etc.
    • Secure payments for each sale. If a customer is on the other side of the planet, what happens if they refuse to pay? It’s worth it to discuss this with your financial institution, federal agencies that assist exporters, and even your insurance.
    • Set up a meeting with international attorneys for all legal issues. Make sure your intellectual properties are protected. Have someone verify that contracts are valid in the areas where you wish to sell.
    • Is your website foreign friendly? Will you need to set up some form of translation? Try to make it as easy as possible for international customers to find you and buy from you.

    Of course, there are other issues to consider. But this list should get your mind going in the right direction. And remember, becoming a global success may not happen overnight, but in the long run, it may be worth the work upfront.

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ or Twitter.

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