International business markets: bridging the gap
In order for businesses to achieve their full potential, a global outlook is essential.
According to recent research conducted by Barclays, companies take an average of four years before realising that operating in the UK market alone will stop them from achieving their aspirations for the future.
The study recommended that firms take the plunge into an overseas market sooner rather than later. When it quizzed them on why they had avoided taking their goods or services abroad, it was revealed that the main issue was a psychological one and businesses were simply too cautious in moving into unknown territory.
However, after 86 per cent of respondents who had already started exporting told the survey that getting started had either matched their expectations or had been easier than they had anticipated – there is no reason why more can’t make a go of it.
With this in mind, here are a few tips on how to make sure that the pitfalls that do exist can be avoided.
One of the most important things you can do is respect local customs. It is essential to do a bit of research before meeting with someone you plan to business with who is from a different country for the first time.
In the early stages of making contact and networking in your new territory, your focus should very much be on relationships rather than the sale and developing that rapport and trust with a new associate can take time.
During business trips, if you show respect for their local culture and display knowledge on their own expectations of how your partnership should be approached, this can certainly speed that process up.
As much as recognising that people conduct their affairs in different ways is important, it is an equally good idea to appreciate that your friend in Japan may not appreciate a phone call at two in the morning simply because it’s nearing the end of your working day.
One tip would certainly be to negotiate a time with your partner that suits the both of you. While there might be a little compromise from one or both parties, this will provide a much more amicable outcome overall.
Unfortunately, this is often a challenge that needs to be faced when international conference calls are involved - however, the good news is that it is easily remedied if everyone involved gives it enough thought.
Getting to grips with fluctuating exchange rates and dealing in different currencies can always be a daunting prospect – especially when starting out in your exporting venture.
However, don’t be tempted to operate in pounds, as using the native currency instead will present your business offer as a more competitive and attractive prospect.
As you get more confident in dealing with the overseas market, another trap to avoid is trying to beat the exchange. This, in theory, is done by making a profit on trading between currencies depending on whether they are on the rise or their value is decreasing. However, this is an incredibly risky practice and you have to consider whether your hard earned cash is really worth chancing.