Doing business abroad isn’t reserved for large multinational conglomerates, and it is not unheard of for even smaller companies in the United States to deal with other countries such as outsourcing, importing raw materials, or exporting goods. Even individual workers are in on it as well, working as freelance writer, VA’s or consultants for companies overseas. And while it is slightly more complicated than simply sticking to your home turf, technology has done a lot to take the guesswork out of the multiple aspects of business for you. For example:
- References to help you with local and international business laws and rules
Doing business with other countries means you will have to adapt your operation to their rules and regulations as well as following those of your own country. Websites such as U.S. Commercial Service and Export.gov alleviate the headache of having to research everything by giving you all the information you need to know before you start business with a particular country.
- Cheap overseas communication
Emails are all fine and good, but some things just need to be discussed in real time. Making overseas phone calls can be quite expensive, but by letting one of the many VoIP providers take care of your telephone needs for you, you can now enjoy making calls and video conferences with your partners and clients overseas at a fixed monthly rate. You even get to keep your old number so that people can reach you the way they usually would even though you are in another country.
- Travel Help
Sometime despite your best efforts and know how, travelling can be a pain, especially when it is done for business. Now there are travel advisories, customs issues, and travel security to be dealt with, repeatedly if you are a frequent traveler. Now you can expedite the crossing of borders through special customs and border protection programs such as Global Entry for the US, and NEXUS and SENTRI for Canada and Mexico respectively, which require no more than some identification and a background check.
To organize the trip itself, there are apps such as Evernote and TripIt which will help you organize your schedules and itineraries, and Expensify to help you budget your travelling expenses.
- Shipping apps
Shipping overseas can be quite a pain as you have to deal with import taxes, customs and logistics as well as be able to keep track of the deliveries and schedules. Nowadays major shippers such as FedEx and UPS have tutorials and apps that help track your shipments, calculate the shipping costs and check if the shipping and cargo comply with the local laws.
- Means of overseas payment
Finally, you cannot do business abroad if you cannot make or receive payments overseas. With online banking and third party funds transfer services you can now make payments abroad without much fuss. There is PayPal for basic transactions, and FX International Payments which even allows you to compare exchange rates. Both services are free, but will deduct a small percentage off each transaction.
PayPal can even be used as a limited payroll service in case you need to outsource individual workers from overseas. For a more sophisticated overseas payroll service however, it is best to consult with third party companies that specialize in this as there are a lot of things to keep track of such as exchange rates and local labor laws, which shouldn’t be your job. Hiring a third party company lets you do your job, which is running the business, while you rest easy with the knowledge that your overseas financial transactions are going on without a hitch.