10 Steps to Becoming a Global Small Business

10 Tips for a Small Business Going Global

Small businesses should always be looking for a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of American companies export and over half of those ship goods and services to only one other country.

Small Business Trends spoke with Jeremy Melis, a Director of Small Business Marketing and Digital Customer Engagement for UPS. He supplied some tips on how smaller enterprises can take advantage of international markets.

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Tips for a Small Business Going Global

Get Online – If You Haven’t Already

“Traditionally you’d see more small businesses start local, then expand regionally, nationally and then internationally,” he says. “Today we’re seeing a slight shift in that trend with some start-ups and business in the artisan communities beginning online.”

He says websites, web stores and online marketplaces are important building blocks for going global.  GoDaddy offers one version with good photo editing tools.

Market via Social Media

Taking advantage of social media platforms is a great way to market a local business that wants to go national or international. Some of the bigger players in the social media management space can be a big help by simplifying the process.

Use Multiple Channels

It’s good to spread the net wide. You can comple, a web store on your website by adding several marketplaces to further your online reach.  Look for technology here that allows you to pull these in with a click of the mouse. Check out places like Shopify.

Dig into Pricing Models

One of the problems small businesses find when they try to go global is competing with bigger competition and free shipping. Melis says a little detective work should pay off and allow for some wiggle room. Specifically, looking to see if “free shipping” is really baked into a competitor’s pricing model can work to your advantage as you can adjust your pricing accordingly.

Develop a Good Returns Policy

This is one spoke in a successful business wheel you can’t afford to ignore if you want to go global. Unfortunately, lots of smaller companies don’t place a necessary focus here.

It’s especially important online so you need to develop and communicate a clear policy.

Fid Tools for Managing Those Returns

“Once you have a good returns policy in place, small business should look for tools to make the process part of returns easier,” Melis says pointing to UPS Returns Manager.

These should bolster the customer experience through pre-set options and the click of a mouse. They are a great way to drive customer loyalty.

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Tweaking your small business or setting one up to go global can be daunting. The Small Business Administration has a portal where you can team up with small business counselors.

Consider Compliance and Tax Issues

There might be different tax codes and other compliance issues you’ll need to look at. For example, you might need licenses to ship some products like technology outside America.

Find a Local Business Contact

You can learn a lot about what you need to know about a foreign market online. However, contacting local business associations to get some names can provide important insider information about how business gets done in new destinations.  

Start with A Logical First Step

Melis points to a proven path for small business globalization and Canada as a first step. Small companies often stay on the continent but jump the border to become international that way.

“It’s a huge population relatively close so it’s a common first step to go north,” he says.

Photo via Shutterstock 8 Comments ▼

Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

8 Reactions
  1. It really helpful for me. I’m running a business for around 2 years and not able to make any profits. But I guess, after implementing your ideas maybe I could make some profits. Thanks

  2. You now have access to the Internet. This can really help you get access to areas you can’t reach before. Such is the power of the Internet. We can create global businesses with just a website.

  3. I agree with all the points that you’ve mentioned here. Also, in efforts towards globalization of your small business, translation and localization of your website can go many a mile to better connect with prospects in your target countries and generate more leads for your product and/or services.

  4. An important part of setting up a successful business is to be compliant with tax laws and employee benefits policies. Every business should have a legal team that could give sound advice and help a company out in case of any unexpected litigation. It takes a lot of time to figure out the right people for this job, so coming to this option only in emergency is a bad idea.

  5. These are some very helpful tips for small business owners. A lot of times an entrepreneur is intimidated by the global market and isn’t sure how to market their product or service abroad. This webinar expands on your points and dives into how to find buyers abroad –> (https://acuity.co/global-expansion-for-small-businesses/). Thanks for sharing.

  6. Nice Article, As a small business owner always I read this type of blog, your advice is practical and easy to use

  7. If you run your business systematically with initial 3 goals like

    1) Spend Minimum
    2) Use Latest Technologies
    3) Always to do business with good people.

    It will definitely boost your business.

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