Going Global Has Never Been Easier for the Self-Employed, Part 2

doing business globally

More on Building a Global Business

(Part 2 of 2; Read Part One Now)

While it is true that it has never been easier to go global, “easier” is not the same as “easy.” There definitely are challenges when looking to expand your self-employed or freelance business internationally.

TheSelfEmployed sat down recently with Jordan Colletta, the Vice President of e-commerce marketing for UPS. As we all know, UPS is a worldwide leader in international shipping. According to Colleta, this is the “best time ever” to take your small business global, for a few reasons:

• The weak U.S. dollar means that international customers have greater buying power.

• Rapidly growing economies like those in China and India offer vast, open, potentially lucrative markets.

• There is a great demand abroad for U.S. products.

The key to tapping into this success, says Colletta, is your willingness to go outside your comfort zone. We are all used to doing business a normal way and its simply a fact that to go international will require that you adopt some new strategies and procedures.

The 4-Step Process to Taking Your Business Abroad

So, what are the actual steps for selling your products abroad?

1. Review your options:  Begin by looking at your product line and consider which items you offer that seem to have the best international appeal. Do your homework, see what sells, and see what prices such items bring in overseas markets. You need to also consider how these items will look on your website.

2. Consider your markets:  Some markets may be easier for you to tap than others, for example, having relatives in Ireland may open some doors for you. The important thing is that you match your product with the right country or countries, and in that sense, this is not much different than what you do already – figuring out what will sell best where.

3. Overcome obstacles:  The most common obstacles for the solopreneur desiring to go global are these:

Navigating regulations, taxes, and duties: Especially in this post-9/11 world, there is no shortage of hoops that an international shipper must jump through. One place to start to familiarize yourself is the U.S. government export portal, Export.gov.

Another place to look is to your shipping company. According to Colletta, a good shipper will make this part of the puzzle simple by handling as many of the details as possible.

Sending the actual shipments: The right shipping partner is critical as it will be the conduit between your small business and your international customer.

4. Create your process:  What language will you do business in? What will you do when an order comes in? What currency or currencies will you accept? How will you communicate with the buyer, who will pack the package, how will you communicate with the shipper, who pays what costs, and who is responsible for shipping it? How will you handle returns?

While there are necessarily a lot of details to sort out, there is also a world of opportunity to tap into.