Shipwire first made contact with Emma Jones and Enterprise Nation when we were launching our UK warehouses. Enterprise Nation is one of the premier SME blogs for people interested in starting a business or growing a business. Emma Jones, a serial entrepreneur, took to the Shipwire idea and some of our blog posts and ideas on global expansion. She recently published a small business resource book about how to take your business global that highlights Shipwire among other tools to ease your global expansion. Here is a guest blog post from Emma Jones about Going Global.
It?s time to Go Global
When technology allows us to start a business on Monday and be trading with the world by Wednesday, it?s tempting to give it a go and go global. Yet Emma Jones, author of ?Go Global: how to take your business to the world?, suggests we are suffering a crisis of confidence when it comes to international trade, with only a fraction of small businesses making the most of what is a golden and global opportunity. Here she offers five basic steps that will broaden your business and cultural horizons.
A world of opportunity
According to Ms. Jones, she decided to write ?Go Global? after meeting young business owner, Emma Henderson, who was importing fair trade bags from India, applying a unique screen print design and selling on the finished product in US via Etsy. Emma?s company, Showpony, was at the time run from her spare room in a Glasgow apartment. ?As I heard her story it occurred to me many more businesses could do the same; start on low cost, embrace technology, and trade with the world,? Says Ms. Jones.
Yet the more I looked into it, the more I realized small businesses were being put off international trade for fear of the time and expense it would involve. I wrote the book to dispel those fears and to show how you can go global in five basic steps.
Step One: Research
Before embarking on any journey, you need to know where you?re going and what to do when you get there. Planning for overseas business is just the same. It?s important to ask a number of questions to determine if there?s a market of people willing and able to buy your goods. The key areas to research are the four Cs; Countries, Customers, Cost and Competition.
Carry out reactive and proactive research; check the origin of site traffic using your site?s analytics tool or use Google Analytics and carry out pro-active research through accessing country and industry reports from Government body UK Trade & Investment and websites such as Alibaba country profiles.
Step Two: Promote
Having identified your new markets and countries, the next step is to get noticed. And the easiest way to raise profile on a worldwide scale is to have a precise understanding of your product or service and the audience to whom you wish to appeal. In other words, the best way to promote yourself (and keep costs as low as possible) is to focus on your niche and build global reach. In the book I show how to achieve this by publishing content and distributing it via social media. Make the most of the fact that that having a presence on just five of the biggest social networking sites gives you access to 828 million potential customers. And best of all, it won?t cost you a penny, euro or yen to promote your service or product via these channels.
Step Three: Sell
You?ve done your research, have a strong profile, and are ready to make sales. Do so via your own website, through platform sites, or through agents and distributors. The book shows you how, including how to take payment. Whether you?re selling fashion for toddlers or software for executives, consider making sales via sites that attract a large audience of customers; sites such as eBay, Amazon, LinkedIn and Etsy. The book outlines these and suggests accepting PayPal as a safe and secure method to receive payment from across the world.
Step Four: Deliver
This step is all about delivering on what you have promised; delivering goods, doing so in a way that meets with documentation and regulatory requirements, and with a level of service that will ensure customers keep coming back. The book covers the reporting requirements of exporting, offers a cost comparison of couriers and makes the case for local shipping with Shipwire as sales in new markets build. When it comes to keeping customers happy, consider software like Get Satisfaction so questions can be answered whilst you?re sleeping and keep in touch with international customers and partners through free or low cost tools such as DimDim, Skype and GoToMeeting.
Step Five: Go Local
Trade is increasing and you want to emphasise just how serious you are about your clients, their country, and its customs and culture. There are a number of ways to do this, from having your site translated into the local language, through to having a local-rate call number and making regular visits. It?s perfectly possible to achieve what I call ?the local look? on a shoestring of a budget.
Taking these steps will be good for you and good for business. You will meet new people, travel to exciting places, and expand your business beyond a flat domestic market. In ?Go Global? Emma demonstrates just how straightforward this is to do, illustrated with stories from 20 successful exporters. So as you?re writing your ?to-do? list for 2011, be sure going global is on it!
Emma Jones is a business expert and author, and founder of small business support company Enterprise Nation www.enterprisenation.com. Her books include ?Spare Room Start Up: How to start a business from home?, ?Working 5 to 9: How to start a successful business in your spare time? and ?Go Global: How to take your business to the world?
Visit www.goglobalguide.com for more details