It has never been a better time to start a business. With easy-to-use e-commerce platforms, YouTube tutorials on just about anything and online marketing and branding courses, it’s easy to jump right in. As we move away from the traditional brick and mortar business, it’s getting easier to live abroad and create/run a successful business.
Here are 5 key insights to having a successful business abroad.
1. Identify cultural differences
Some countries work on Saturdays and respond to you 24 hours a day, while others are more laid back and respect their weekends off and don’t reply promptly to your emails. Either way, you have to go with the flow and plan ahead for weekends and public holidays, especially if you have a deadline. Not every country has the same holidays, so it’s important to keep up and plan accordingly.
2. Connect and add value
This is a wonderful asset in business. When you move to a new country, you don’t always have a network of friends and family that you can leverage as a resource. During this time you are learning a new landscape of relationships and customs, making this the perfect time to call on the connections that you do have and see how they can help. One phone call can open up another door that you never thought existed and next thing you know you are exporting to China. It’s incredible, so put yourself out there and start emailing and calling anyone that you think could be of service. Moving to Australia from the US, I reached out to everyone I knew and one good friend put me in contact with a manufacturer who taught me a lot about the process behind creating June Superfoods.
One tip however that is great to live by when you are connecting is always ask yourself, “how can I add value to this person?” Are you a photographer? Offer content. Do they sell something? Buy it. Do you know about something that could benefit their business? Connect them. Thinking this way will get you a lot further than just taking information and contacts. It’s incredible!
3. Ask questions and learn
Most business owners don’t have all the answers and many find that Google is a great asset to their team. If this sounds like you, then try this. When you need to find business insurance or understand export laws to the US or China, contact at least three companies that can help. Have a look at their responses and choose the company at the bottom of your list – the one you would prefer not to work with. Be ready with questions and start firing. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and tell them you know nothing about what you are discussing.
Ask questions and take notes. Think of it as a 30-minute course on this particular business topic. Lawyers especially are an incredible resource, as they will teach you so much in a free 30-minute phone consultation. Once you arm yourself with this new knowledge, contact the company that you feel fits best with your business. You are now in the know and better able to negotiate with confidence when it comes to making decisions.
4. Everyone is on your team
If you are running the show on your own it can get lonely, but when you deal with people every day (even in emails) start thinking of them as part of your team. The woman working at the Post Office, your manufacturer, lawyer, accountant and insurance broker – they are all on your team. So when deadlines are not met or times get stressful, you can let them know that you are disappointed. In respecting them and making them feel like they are on your team, they are more likely to feel responsible and work that extra bit harder to make things right.
5. Be authentic
When you live in a different country, most people can tell you are a foreigner as soon as you speak. It’s easy to soften your accent, but you can instead choose to embrace it – you will be that much more memorable. You have a lot of value to add to anyone that meets you. Starting a business and the energy that goes with it is contagious. People enjoy being around someone who is excited and loving what they are doing. Add value to those you meet, smile, connect and simultaneously watch how your business authentically grows.
Living abroad and connecting with people from all over the world is incredible. If you are living in a different country and looking to start a business, there is unbelievable support out there. Check out these incredible resources for building a business:
- E-commence: shopify.com
- Social Media Management: later.com
- Email Automation: mailchimp.com
- Instagram Hashtags: websta.com
- Free hi-quality Stock Photos: unsplash.com
- Fonts/graphics: creativemarket.com
- Online Business and Creative Courses: Creativelive.com
- Logos and Design: 99designs.com or designcrowd.com