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Setting a Plan for International Business Success

Women business owners know that the sky is the limit to your success. Thanks to technology, more women business owners than ever are opening their doors and taking their businesses across countries to see success. Whether you currently operate in the U.S. or you’ve just begun to branch out within your state, it’s never too early to plan for your global expansion.

Many NAWBO members have express concern about local tax laws, embargos, customs, etc. But the truth is that with strategic planning, which remains the same no matter what country you’re in, a good plan will support these differences from country to country. Here are five things to consider, as shared by several international business experts.

1) Answer These Questions.

In The Quest for Global Dominance: Transforming Global Presence into Global Competitive Advantage by Vijay Govindarajan and Anil K. Gupta. According to the authors, a sound global strategy should address the following questions:
• What must be (versus what is) the extent of market presence in the world’s major markets?
• How to build the necessary global presence?
• What must be (versus what is) the optimal locations around the world for the various value chain activities?
• How to run global presence into global competitive advantage?

2) Join International Business and Networking Organizations.

Organizations like the World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM) are paramount to the success of many of the leading international women business owners. Through organizations like this, you can connect with other women business owners in your countries of growth, learn about local laws and advocate for the rights of women business owners throughout the world. As FCEM World President Francoise Foning says, “Alone we are invisible; together we are invincible.”

3) Consider the Cash.

According to Tim Berry, author of The CPA’s Guide to Developing Effective Business Plans, creating a specific budget for your business is critical when operating internationally. There are countless things to consider, including currency exchange rates, translating your finances and being well informed about local market factors. Berry points out that if you already have a business plan for your U.S.-based business, you’re headed in the right direction. However, learning to prepare for changes in currency as well as estimating market trends, will put you on track for success. “When preparing this [international finance] chapter [of my book], I was struck by an irony related to planning the international business,” he says. “There was always much more similarity than difference. Planning is still planning, not accounting.”

4) Create Country-Specific Web Sites.

It’s no longer enough to rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to your global marketing, says Souheil Badran, senior vice president and general manager, eCommerce Solutions for First Data Solutions. Harley-Davidson now has 25 Web sites around the globe to attract and service customers in various countries; Crocs Inc. has 45. Badran says specific sites are preferred because they:

  • Are more convenient for customers
  • Offer more attractive product offerings
  • Give better, more persuasive communication in the local language
  • Give higher rankings in search engines
  • Offer greater ease of payment options for customers

5) Use Social Media.

With sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter bringing users closer together than ever before, determining if your product has a viable audience is easy for today’s small business owner. Google Insight also shows small businesses what products are popular in each country to determine the best markets for you to expand to according to Steve Boston, author and marketing specialist. “Your business is only limited by the boundaries you artificially put on it,” he says. “Release your creative and imaginative powers and begin to think in broader terms.”