How a small business can trade in a global market
Business today is global, and those participating in it need to be equipped to trade on an international stage. The digital revolution has propelled business into the online sphere and, while technology has developed significantly, businesses still need to follow steps to make sure they’re set up to survive and thrive in the global market.
Without the cushioning of a large corporation, small businesses have to be especially diligent. Here are some easy-to-follow steps to put you on the right footing for success:
Provide different channels
First up, businesses need to recognise that not everyone is as engaged in the digital world as each other. It’s often easy for a digitally savvy type to forget not everybody shares the same skills. While online may well be the preferred channel by the vast majority, businesses need to ensure they are always catering for those who might be traditionally-minded, less technically-literate or just technology-resistant, the less wealthy, or those with disabilities where the technology does not always allow for their needs.
Understand cultural differences
An acceptance of, and patience towards, cultural differences is paramount for fruitful global trade. Practically, businesses must recognise they will need to communicate in multiple languages and across multiple time zones. Culturally, they need to be open to how different countries execute business, and respect the individuals and organisations within all cultures.
To achieve success globally, rather than focus on one or a few markets, small businesses need to remain flexible to ensure they don’t lose out to more agile competitors. A key part of this is ensuring they’re not restricted when it comes to the channels and platforms they’re visible on. To reach the maximum amount of relevant people, businesses need to ensure they’re active and adaptable online, so customers and prospects across the world know who they are and what services they offer.
Assess the risk
Protect the bottom line by knowing who you’re dealing with and what risk they could present to your cash flow. Buying or selling overseas carries the same challenges as UK trading, just with the cross-border complications. Can they pay their invoice, meet payment terms or fulfil your order? It’s important to be diligent and ensure you have a clear view of the credit risks and opportunities.
Make security a priority
From a security point of view, businesses need to have sturdy fraud prevention strategies in place to safely trade across the world. The cost of fraud to both businesses and consumers is extremely high, and something no one wants to be a victim of. The key is having preventative processes in place, and well-considered action plans prepared, so any attack causes as minimal disruption as possible, or is thwarted.
Keep an open mind
Finally, small businesses need to be willing to adapt, trust and have an open mind. Hesitation, or excessive precaution, could put a business at risk of falling behind competitors who remain flexible. In the not so distant future, we may see all business happening around the world and at all hours of the day – true globalisation which needs to be anticipated.
Small businesses should be excited about the opportunities and prospects operating on a global platform brings. By applying the right attitude to businesses, and the multiple cultures they operate in, small firms will be able to reap the benefits of international trade.
Ade Potts is managing director of Experian SME
This article appears on fsb.org.uk