Moving or expanding your business abroad requires time, effort and skill. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting to trade abroad, or if you’re a international trade wunderkind, there are always more things you can learn to help you get an edge over the competition. So here are four essential business hacks for better overseas trading.
1 – Have a telephone interpreter on speed dial
Getting to grips with a foreign language can be one of the most difficult aspects of doing business in a foreign country. Your GCSE in French may get you by on a short holiday, but it won’t suffice when it comes to crucial business conversations.
Translation apps and algorithms have come a long way since the dawn of Google Translate, but they still have many drawbacks, including a lack of accuracy, that make them ill suited for important business transactions. Automated translation technology also lacks contextual expertise in any industry, and it still relies very heavily on literal translations that obscure true meaning. Even one of the project researchers who worked on the new AI Google Translate update admits that the tech isn’t perfect; stating that the software doesn’t have a model of how the world actually works yet.
Luckily, there is another way to use your phone to translate a language you don’t know. As industry experts Global Voices note, telephone interpreters are a great on-the-go solution to your translation needs. If you need to do a business deal on short notice, or talk directly to a customer who doesn’t speak English, arranging a call with a telephone interpreter will have you talking like old friends in no time.
2 – Keep your accounting in the cloud
Keeping track of bills, receipts and invoices is difficult enough in your home country, but when it comes to tracking currency exchange rates and foreign transactions too, it can all become too much.
Thankfully, you can stay on top of your accounts by using a cloud-based accounting service. 3 Wise Bears, for example, is a London-based cloud accountancy firm who specialise in accountancy for contractors, freelancers and small businesses. They boast they can make your accounting data available to you “from anywhere in the world.”
If you’d rather handle your finances on your own, you can invest in a cloud accounting program to use yourself such as Quickbooks. This way, wherever your business may take you, you will be able to access your accounts online, and make sure you have everything under control.
- Use a virtual office for correspondence
If you are moving your base abroad but are to continue operating in the UK, you want people to be able to call and contact the UK wing of your operations. To do this you could use a UK-based virtual office in a prestigious location like Fenchurch Street or Canary Wharf, which will put your business in the same league as other top firms based in that area.
Virtual offices give you a real world address and telephone number based on one location and forward any mail or calls on to wherever you really are in the world. Using a virtual office means you can leave your home country behind in person, but still maintain a strong business presence there in practice.
- Learn local social media
Modern marketing relies heavily on social media, so to expand your business abroad, you have to get the lay of the online land.
For starters, there are several international social networks that you may never have heard of, such as Weibo in China, which is actually one of the biggest social networks in the world, and Sonico, which is popular in Latin America.
It’s not just new platforms you need to know about. It’s also the way you use the ones you do know. In Japan, Facebook is used for more professional purposes in a fashion similar to LinkedIn in the UK. In Germany, a platform called XING is the LinkedIn equivalent.
Mastering local social media for your business can make a huge difference to your foreign business success. After all, 71% of customers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to others. Use international social media alongside all of these other business hacks, and you will be a runaway international success in no time.