TMCnet Feature
January 10, 2022

Top Questions to Ask Before You Start an International Business

International businesses come with big challenges that you don’t have when you sell products and services in your home country. Most entrepreneurs won’t even consider offering sales internationally until they are successful at home. The reasoning is that all the additional customs and import challenges are better faced when there is already a successful model being done in the home country. Here are some of the most important questions to ask before you start an international business.

Do You Already Have a Successful Business?

This is probably the most important question to ask. Unless you have some in depth knowledge of running an international business, it’s usually best to start a business locally and expand from there. Your expansion can be online, through local stores, through big box stores, and so much more. It all depends on what you sell and who your target audience is. Having a successful business means you already understand all the critical aspects of starting and growing a biz. You’ll be better equipped to handle the additional challenges that come with international businesses.

What Kind of Products Do You Want to Sell Overseas?

Knowing what you want to sell will help you determine the best countries to sell your products in. Skincare for instance is very important in certain cultures, so you would want to be aware of how you position and sell that product. Choosing a product to sell overseas can be daunting, so most businesses start with a handful of items and expand from there.

Does Your Product Meet the Standards?

Did you know that Europe has stricter standards for skin and body care items than the United States? This means that if your product contains any of the chemicals on their no-no lists, you cannot sell your items in their countries. You would need to create a completely different formulation than you sell here for it to meet their criteria. This goes for many other products as well, including food, toys, and more.

Who is Your importer of Record?

Do you even know what an importer of record is? When you sell products internationally, you need someone on the ground to handle all the documentation and fees that come with importing those items into their country. You can’t just ship things and expect it to get to the customers. Amazon sellers often make the mistake of thinking that Amazon just offers these services automatically and that they can just start offering products overseas. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even Amazon sellers need to procure their own importer of record to help handle their products when they are sold overseas.

Do You Have the Manpower to Handle the Expansion?

Business owners need the bandwidth to handle international expansions. Not only will you be dealing with the business in your home country, but you will also need to handle far more paperwork, phone calls, and more just to sell overseas. If your people are not prepared to help, this can present a challenge. You need a team of people who are willing to try new things and help with the expansion. Otherwise, business owners will be left with all the work. You can try out e-commerce options to simplify the process, but you’ll still need people who can help you get it all set up.

Does Your Credit Card Processor (News - Alert) Accept International Payments?

Ensuring that you have a way to accept international payments is critical. Not all credit card processors are created equal. When you do your research, consider the fees for each country you’ll be selling in, and any restrictions on how big the transactions can be. Not only that but consider the security of your website. Your site will need to meet strict security requirements to ensure that it meets all the criteria to offer international sales. Sourcing a good credit card processor is important.

How Will You Handle Taxes?

Taxes get really complicated when you start selling internationally. You’ll need an accountant who can take care of this for you. If you don’t have an accountant, be ready to have good bookkeeping skills, and to spend time doing a lot of paperwork and filing fees regularly. Not only will you need to cover all the tax implications of your business in your home country, but you’ll also need to account for overseas taxes and taxes related to your international business. If you’re not skilled, it’s best left to experienced tax professionals.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the important considerations you’ll need to make when you start an international business. Whether you expand a current business, or start a new one on new soil, don’t forget all the basics of marketing, sales, and social media still apply even when you’re selling internationally.

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