As your business grows from strength to strength, you could be buoyed with confidence – perhaps even enough to make that first proper step onto the international stage. That’s fine, but before you go through with that plan, you need to make sure that your specific strategy is viable.
Overseas markets, especially those with which you are currently unfamiliar, can be fraught with risks – but, if you can tick all the below boxes, you can put yourself on a firmer footing for the journey.
Get the timing right
When you sense that your company might be touching its peak in financial takings and market share in its home market, strike into your first foreign market while the iron is still hot.
A canny sense of timing can also bode well with your selection of products to offer the new market. You might find that a supposedly innovative, hi-tech product still doesn’t entice prospective customers over there if that territory lacks the right infrastructure to support it, Entrepreneurwarns.
Track from where potential customers are flocking
Okay, so those customers might be merely trickling through, rather than flocking, in the early stages. Still, however healthy the stream of customers, remember to detect the countries from which customers are showing the strongest interest and then choose your trading channels accordingly.
For example, if the e-commerce platforms eBay and Etsy are particularly often used in your potentially “hot” markets overseas, you can set up your own storefronts through these websites.
Check whether HMRC will class you as an employee
Even if you reckon yourself to be in full control of your corporate destiny, the way that HMRC sees you might tell a different story – at least in a semantic sense.
As warned in an article for Business Matters, HMRC will seek to tax you as an employee if you are your customers’ employee in all but name – even if you pretend to be your own business entity. The UK’s tax rules can be complex, as can those elsewhere – so don’t neglect to research on this point.
Choose how to accept payments
Many different currencies could be represented in your international customers’ expenditure on your products or services. For this reason, you might consider setting up an extra bank account for each foreign currency that you handle. However, this strategy can prove dauntingly costly.
You might benefit more from implementing a PayPal system, as this would let you more readily accept a range of currencies and have money, as it arrives, translated into your native currency.
Look well ahead with your financial strategy
You shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work required in expanding internationally; it’s akin to forming and maintaining a whole, second start-up. Furthermore, as with your actual start-up, you could find yourself waiting a while for profitability and self-sufficiently to arrive in spades.
Hence, slashing your outgoings as far as possible can work well during early stages – and making cheap international calls through Planet Numbers could help you in that potentially challenging task.