|This series is commissioned by UPS.|
Last year we did a series about the trend in micromultinational businesses. These are businesses that are small — some very small with a mere handful of employees — but already operating as multinationals. It used to be that your business had to wait to grow up before going international. Not today. Today you can leapfrog from a startup serving a 50-mile radius, to selling to customers in dozens of countries.
Today that I’d highlight some articles from our archives on the special challenges and opportunities of going international even while a small business.
As background on this topic, take a look at:
Considerations Before Going Global — In Preparing Your Business To Go Global, I point out 5 considerations (pros and cons) of taking your business international. Should you or shouldn’t you go global? There’s no one right answer. You have to look at your business and your market, as well as the risks and opportunities. For instance, figuring out how to get paid is one of the key issues facing any international business where money is going across different currencies and different payment legalities. Another key issue: local taxes and regulations in each jurisdiction your business be in or send goods to have to be considered, or you could lose big money. Yet another issue: exporting laws and licenses in your own country — you can get in compliance and sleep easy, or you can wait for the nightmares to start. Get informed, weigh everything, then decide.
Readying Your Website for International Visitors — The Web is a key marketing, sales and distribution channel for international business. In How to Make Your Website Ready for International Business, we examine 4 steps you can make to ensure your website is friendly to and ready for non-domestic and non-English-speaking visitors. From internationalizing your website content, to making it easy for buyers to calculate shipping costs — the steps are now relatively straightforward ones.
If you are looking for inspiration from other businesses that have gone multinational as either young startups or while still relatively small, go no further than these examples:
Challenge: Cost of Compliance — in Tales of Micro-Multinationals: Jadience , we took a look at Jadience, which sells a line of health and skincare products and treatments rooted in Traditional Oriental Medicine. One of their biggest challenges as a small business: complying with industry regulations in many different locales, including the cost of the compliance process.
Opportunity: Expansion Using a Hub and Spoke Model — in Tales of Micro-Multinationals: Worketc, we profiled Worketc, a maker of business software with customers in 23 countries at that time. The company’s Founder, Dan Barnett, says that scaling a micromultinational can be done, but only if you treat each region as its own micro-multinational. You’d need to expand in a hub-and-spoke model, rather than a traditional pyramid organizational structure, he says.
Opportunity: Meeting Client Needs by a Mix of Face-to-Face and Virtual — in Tales of Micro-Multinationals: The Real Time Project, we looked at The Real Time Project, a consulting group that helps organizations deal with the implications of content becoming more real-time. It takes a diverse range of skills including skills in social media, real-time Web protocols, video distribution, and business and branding strategy. It’s unlikely that most companies will have all the necessary skills in people sitting in one room in one location today. A multinational consulting firm helps large brands scale with the right mix of face-to-face and virtual resources.