Expand Your Small Business into International Markets

A large number of companies export their products abroad, but there are many more that could and do not. This article examines why this is the case and proposes potential solutions to the problems which they face in entering the global market.

There are two main reasons that small businesses are put off by exporting. The first barrier is mainly psychological and occurs because of a belief that their product is unsuitable for foreign markets. While it is true that some products are inappropriate for rolling out across the globe, the reality is that if you have an innovative idea enjoying success in your home country then the next logical step for growing your business must be through export.

The other problem faced by small businesses that discourages them from exporting their product is establishing the initial infrastructure that is needed to handle the process. Realistically, the cost outlay of a small business dealing with the export infrastructure alone would simply not be commercially viable.

For those businesses that do decide to export, there are two traditional methods that are commonly used. The first of these is to establish a proprietary infrastructure with remote offices and administrative support. This is a very expensive option and will cost a minimum of £100,000 – a sum that very few small businesses can afford.

The other option available to them is to put their product in the hands of a distributor. This is much less expensive but it greatly limits the amount of control they have over what is done with their product inside that territory. This, coupled with the common mistake of underestimating the time it will take to bring a product to market in another country, makes exporting a great risk that can make or break a small business.

With the advent of new technology, there is now another way to control the export process in a ‘hands-on’ fashion while also keeping costs low. The solutions that many small businesses have found are ‘Virtual Assistants’ – foreign entrepreneurs providing administrative, creative or technical assistance from their home office. These individuals can provide everything from call answering and first level customer support right through to marketing and public relations.

This new type of worker is not classed as a temp or employee but more like a freelance secretary because they will also have other clients than you. With a virtual assistant you will be able to deal with all the administrative chores for that country at a fraction of the price of having a physical office.

Online Examples & Resources

How to Work With Your Virtual Assistants Efficiently

Business Services that a Virtual Assistant can provide

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Posted on Sep 1, 2009