There are very few entrepreneurs that have not thought about entering the world of exporting. Besides sounding glamorous and exciting, meeting people from all over the world can make you feel prestigious and important. Aside from dreaming of travel and new cultures, there is more work to this prospect than meets the eye. Here are 10 tips for considering the possibility of taking your products or services on a global scale.
If you try to take on the entire globe, your head will explode. Take your time and find those countries that will benefit the most from your product or service. This will be a good learning experience of all the problems you will certainly encounter. Even better is finding a contact from this area that can give you the inside dos and don'ts of a foreign country. You will find that being accepted into a new and different world is not all that easy.
Dealing with Americans is quite different than working with foreigners. If it is possible, find a company that has good working relationship with a desired country and find out what the appropriate terms of communication are. Learning the language can be impressive, but also a burden and totally unnecessary. Many businesses overseas have found it beneficial to speak English for easier communication with Americans and Europeans. The best way to influence your foreign friends is to be available to them when they call.
Street Level Smarts
Sitting down with a company and hashing out details may seem your expertise in the US, but many foreigners have a survival instinct that is second to none. Know where your bottom line is and stick to it or you will find yourself giving away the store. Some countries send mere babes to the streets to beg and manipulate visitors into giving them something. They learn early on that getting something for nothing is the only way to deal. While many wholesalers may have a college degree and have done very well, never underestimate their life-long bargaining power.
Americans have become disconnected with the technology available today. While an email or quick phone call may work for determining the needs of US companies, this rarely works for other countries. They want to know who they are dealing with and whether or not you can be trusted to provide what they need. This can only happen by taking the time to become intimate with your potential buyers on a professional level.
Stay Away from Local Competition
By searching a pinpointed area and offering a better mousetrap than what is sold by local merchants, is certain death. Competing with tradition and in many cases, friends and family, can bring a bad reputation to your company, without any such intent. Instead, approach those that can offer your product, in conjunction with theirs, or stay away from this product line altogether. The United States is a fairly new country to the rest of the globe and loyalty runs deep in heritage.
If you have a line of wool apparel, this is not going to do much good to Caribbean nations. Think about what is needed, plus difficult for foreign countries to find, then keep it simple. For instance, cheap tennis shoes will be more readily accepted in third world countries than designer running shoes. Different cultures can rely on the strangest items that you would never dream of. Plan a trip and really dig into the life of those you wish to sell. For example, who would know that Spam is a favorite meat in Japan, or that inexpensive rubber sole shoes are a best seller on EBay in Asian countries?
If you think the US has tons of export regulations, wait until you begin dealing with a foreign country. While the rules of the game may be less complex, they tend to change regulations on a frequent basis. Having an inside contact or an employee that is savvy in keeping up with monitoring such changes can keep you from being fined without warning. Worse yet, an entire delivery of goods can be impounded and never seen again.
Challenges of Reason
Being savvy with iron-clad contracts that keep returns and cancellations to a minimum may work in an industrialized nation, but in many countries, this is just garbage. Unless you are ready to take on a local, on their own turf and within their own legal system, never try to fight a deal gone bad. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
Showing respect to potential clients is something that has to be learned according to their cultural heritage. Study the religious and cultural aspects of any nation that you select to serve before sticking your foot in your mouth and insulting customers. Find out when holy holidays are observed, what types of animals are acceptable, and what it takes for foreigners to win respect.
Foreign currency is not only difference in the way it looks, but also the value as weighed against the dollar. Depending on what area of the world you are selling in, has a up or down side as to the value of the currency. For example, 1.3678 American dollars is equal to .8212 Euros while 5.024 United Arab Emirates is equal to that same 1.3678 dollar amount. It is not always possible to demand US currency so be knowledgeable in this area.
The more that you know about your country of choice will get you started quicker, and become profitable faster. By wading into unknown territory with nothing but a will to sell, can be very dangerous and costly. Test the waters on one small area and expand as you learn. The exporting business has decreased compared to importing and now is a great time to get started. Learn what you need to know and get ahead of the game.