5 Step Beginners Guide for Taking Your Small Business Global

Considerations for Dealing with International Clients, Partners and Employees


Increasing globalisation, reduction of trade barriers and interdependence of world economies has given rise to cross-cultural interactions between businesses and customers, as well as opportunities for small business owners.

Even small scale businesses are tapping into overseas markets for their future growth and business expansion.

With the availability of low-cost communication services, high-speed internet, outsourcing options and growing technology, there’s no need to limit your business growth to geographical boundaries.

As someone who has worked internationally and been a professional facilitator in a globally-focused business and industry, I can attest to these possibilities but also some challenges.

So here are my 5 top tips for going global and dealing with international contacts

1. Cultural Differences

The first and foremost thing is to consider the country’s specific business norms, customs and etiquettes. Some cultures avoid the use of first names or personal names or make use of indirect communication while dealing with business partners. Likewise, in some countries discussing the prices upfront or a hard sell approach is considered to be a big turn off. So invest in doing a fair amount of research on culture before taking the leap into a new country.

2. Different Time Zones

Time zones are a double edged sword. So while you’re asleep, your counterparts on the other side of the world can be busy attending to your business, but it also poses a communication challenge.

Consider the time difference before calling overseas or else you might end up waking them at midnight.

It’s better to pre-arrange a time convenient to both of you before scheduling any business related video calls and phone calls. Email correspondence and downloading a world time app on your smartphones and laptops can prove handy in such situations.

You will need to allow in some cases for longer turn around times in communication.

3. Communication

When communicating take note of differences in language and local slang used. If you don’t understand the local language, seek assistance from the interpreter or ask for email clarification as and when required.

If you’re planning on using suppliers overseas it’s particularly important to have someone trusted on the ground to act as your intermeditary. They should have local language and cultural understanding but also exisiting relationships with key people.

4. Currency Specifications

While dealing with an overseas client, there can be differences in currency specifications and payment terms.

It’s better to specify the currency details in advance to avoid confusion later.

Usually a certain amount of processing fee and currency conversion charges are levied on any foreign payment.

So it’s essential to work out a payment plan and price adjustments in advance. You can also consult your bank for different modes of payment available for processing a foreign transaction.

Don’t take this factor lightly or you will end up losing your hard earned money.

5. Legal Considerations

Every country has its own specific laws governing business and taxation. It’s better to consult a lawyer with expertise in this area before expanding into another country and signing any legal documentation.