Today, we live in a truly global economy, so much so that it is often natural to consider expanding by doing business overseas. The Internet helps make this quicker and easier than ever before. Before moving to global operations, however, it is important to consider how that decision will affect marketing, shipping and delivery, tax, and intellectual property issues.
Existing online marketplaces provide ready-made web-based storefronts for small businesses that wish to expand their operations. And although you can keep your costs down by using your current website to market your products or services, you should first obtain expert advice about many issues in the markets you wish to target:
The obvious, such as language and cultural sensitivities;
The basics, such as website layout, colors, and shapes; and
What is effective, in terms of preferred search engines and terms.
Shipping and Delivery
Shipping and delivery issues are also present for small companies who wish to do business overseas. It is not uncommon for carriers to subcontract for various aspects of delivery, and customs issues can be tricky to navigate. You will need to find a reputable business partner with the following characteristics:
The ability to track packages;
A proven track record of on-time operations; and
The capability to uplevel operations fast if necessary.
Also make sure your customers understand how items will be delivered, as well as who pays for delivery. Currency converters can be helpful if the customer will carry the cost of delivery.
As with delivery charges, it is important that your customers understand who is responsible for sales taxes, and you need to understand potentially applicable value-added taxes. The rules vary across markets, so it is critical that you find a tax expert with specific knowledge about the jurisdictions in which you wish to operate.
One of the most difficult issues to deal with when you are considering expanding overseas relates to intellectual property. Picking up additional potential markets will mean nothing if someone steals your ideas or processes and undercuts your brand. Unfortunately, protecting your intellectual property can be very difficult and requires the counsel of highly specialized experts familiar with the laws within relevant jurisdictions.
Contact us if you would love to consider expanding overseas. We can help, or refer you to the right people who can.