6 Ways to Improve Your International Business Operations

Freight forwarder

Are you hoping to expand your customer base to all 6 billion humans in the world? Are you looking to utilize business suppliers beyond American soil? International trade is so commonplace anymore that international freight shipping companies move 9,548 million tons of goods between countries every year.

If your company is ready to make an international partnership to import or export goods, it’s a good idea to take this advice into consideration:

  1. Utilize an international trade directory to make sourcing suppliers efficient. Your business probably has hundreds of moving parts that you have to oversee; that can be particulary difficult to coordinate from across the globe. An international trade directory is an interactive database that can tell you the manufacturers, cargo shipping companies, freight forwarders, and other business providers in the particular area you’re looking to do business in. Not only does this make business operations overseas easier, many companies listed in an international trade directory are members of associations, which helps ensure that they are legitimate.
  2. Get advice from other people who do business in the same area. If you know of anyone who has done business in the region you’re considering, ask them for advice. Hearing their lessons learned can help you avoid the same pitfalls. You might be able to discover international business opportunities by leveraging some of their contacts. If you don’t know anyone who can give you direction, you might want to join a US international trade group to make those connections.
  3. Keep track of the local time. This might sound obvious, but communication will go smoother if you get in the habit contacting your foreign partners during their business hours. There are smartphone aps that keep other time zones on your home screen, or you can just hang a second clock in your office.
  4. Hire someone on the ground in the area your international partners are. There are a lot of advantages to having a local person who understands the culture and business operations to represent your business overseas. They can provide you with local insight and knowledge and make sure that your business runs smoothly.
  5. Keep important holidays in your calendar. Many international cultures observe completely different holidays than Americans. Keep track of important dates in the country you’re working in so that you don’t set up any conflicting deadlines. Imagine the inconvenience and offense you would experience if you had an international partner expect you to fulfill a time consuming responsibility on Christmas morning. Likewise, make sure you are courteous of your international partners’ important holidays.
  6. Take advantage of online-based communication services. Since you’ll spend a majority of your time running your vital operations from across the world, you’ll want to set up a convenient channel for regular communication. International calls are expensive and the delay you experience while talking makes it difficult to convey complicated ideas. Using a video conferencing service like Skype, Google Hangouts, or GoTo Meetings is an inexpensive tool that makes high-quality communication across the world accessible and convenient.

Does your business import or exports goods and services internationally? Do you have any advice for forging foreign relationships that we didn’t mention? Please leave us a comment with your input!

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