7 Tips for Better International Business Relationships

Andy-Lee Fry

Have you ever considered taking your business international? It can seem like such a daunting task, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. Thanks to technological advances over the last couple of decades, it’s never been more practical to take your business overseas.

Have you ever considered taking your business international? It can seem like such a daunting task, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. Thanks to technological advances over the last couple of decades, it’s never been more practical to take your business overseas. In fact, depending on where you are in the world, there are certain types of freelance work that you’ll find primarily comes from a different country to the one in which you live. 

Whether you’re going it alone, or leading one of many companies going global, there are things you should know to make business a little easier. We’ve laid out a few of them here. 

1 – Watch the Clock Globally

This might seem like a basic one, but it’s something that can really make a difference to your business. You must make sure that when you take on an international client, you’re able to consider their local time zone. 

Time zones can come into play in a variety of ways. When agreeing to a deadline, make sure you are both clear on which zone you are basing this. If you need urgent feedback from your international client on the project, you may find that they won’t be available – or even awake – for several hours. You must factor in these possibilities when planning projects, and if time zone-related issues are not specified at the outset, make sure to address them as soon as possible. 

2 – Speaking in a Common Tongue

One hurdle that can keep potential international entrepreneurs from taking steps beyond their borders is that of language. It’s true that many businesses worldwide operate on a primarily English-language basis. Therefore, in all likelihood your foreign customers will be communicating in English.

 That said, you will almost certainly have access to a much wider range of potential clients if you can communicate in their local language to some degree of fluency. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to learn a new language through learning apps and tutoring platforms online. Your clients will certainly appreciate your efforts to communicate in their native tongue.

3 – Maintain Good Etiquette

To many modern businesspeople, the idea of etiquette might seem a bit outdated. However, there are certain countries in which your reputation can fall significantly if you fail to adhere to local customs. Your international expansion may rely on this knowledge.

How to correctly approach a new client can vary from country to country. While cold-calling may be acceptable in the US, in Japan it is not considered appropriate. If meeting in person, shaking hands may not be the correct greeting. Research etiquette in your target country, and you can avoid some serious faux pas. 

4 – Keep Currency Consistent

It may be a basic consideration when it comes to business, but mistakes involving currency are still relatively commonplace. Even if you’ve been working with international clients or some time, you may make occasional slip ups here. 

It will certainly benefit you to ensure that both yourself and your client are clear from the outset as to what currency you’ll be operating in. This should be written into any contracts where applicable.  If you’re operating in a currency you’re not familiar with, you should also frequently keep abreast of conversion rates through real-time applications in order to ensure that your fees and budgets are always up to date. 

5 – Gain Knowledge of International Cultures

 As with any good business venture, yours will benefit from your ability to undertake the right kind of research on the countries in which your clients are based. On area of research that you shouldn’t overlook is that of the local culture. 

 What is the lifestyle like – will the number of hours people tend to work in that country affect your own working day? The dates of national and religious holidays are worth making note of in order to plan for communications and deadlines. Even something small like politely enquiring how your Russian clients’ National Unity Day celebrations went will help show that you are a considerate international business person.  

6 – Dig into the Local Markets

Doing business internationally is not always as simple as taking your service to a new country. Any good entrepreneur knows that there are local elements to take into consideration. Researching local markets will help you to avoid entering a business landscape in which your product or service has little chance of success. 

If your type of product is popular in the EU, check to make sure the market isn’t already saturated with it. If there’s a gap in the US market for your service, look into why this is – learn from the failures of others in the area before launching headlong into it yourself. 

7 – Embrace Current Communications Technology

We are living in an exciting age of technology. This translates into some really helpful uses for your burgeoning international businesses. However, while it can be really easy to just shoot off an email to a client, you should take into account that a personal touch can be both useful and appreciated. 

Utilise video calling technology wherever possible for regular meetings with your clients. Not only does this build a personal connection, but you’ll often find trust is built more swiftly and effectively through face-to-face communications. 

Your International Success Relies on Research

There is no denying that there are certain challenges companies face in entering global markets. The good news is that these can usually be avoided by doing the appropriate amount of research before jumping in the deep end. Remember that international markets aren’t there to be exploited, but they are open for you to contribute in positive ways. Learn about what’s important to your clients, keep aware of the differences between your respective countries’ practices, and you’ll forge a path to success. 

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