By Lara Morgan, Author Of More Balls Than Most

The financial side of trading abroad must be considered; it is vital to your business.

If you are going to become an international trader you need to be very aware of the strength of your banking partners as you develop wider demands and deal with endless currency transactions and challenges. Every international bank has guides and publications on each country you may wish to trade in. Get them; they are both free and useful.

Be very aware that outside the UK your contracts are worthless, so getting payment for your goods is everything — selling is only part of the proposition. Only deliver once you have the money, or when you have cast-iron terms of trading such as a letter of credit drawn on a reputable bank.

Learn the value of the use of letters of credit to grow your business by having your bank explain them to you. Then, working with your client in partnership, perfect between you the exact details of the letter of credit before presentation to the bank.

Never do these negotiations through the bank as every change costs money; in fact, do not go to your bank until you are completely happy with the definitions of terms. And always say no to business that will not pay on your terms. My first slippery customer was in Russia. It took literally months for money transfers to be made, but the orders were sizable — and were only actually made when the money was in my bank.

One final note: of course, there are boundaries and restrictions, and common sense should apply when travelling to some countries. I’ve been lucky; in the soap-sales world there has been no need to travel to war zones.

There are also some territories where a man will still be better received than a woman, but times are changing and I have only ever felt disadvantaged by being female in Saudi Arabia. Only once did I ever feel unsafe on my solitary travels, and that was arriving in Mexico City at 2 a.m. and having to find a cab at a deserted airport. It was only a momentary fear and I have found that with luck, a solid composure and outward confidence much can be achieved.

Do you trade in other countries and do you want to raise the profile of your company? Then apply for the 2012 International Trade Awards and propel your business into new markets and accelerated growth.

Now in their fifth year, the 2012 International Trade Awards sponsored by American Express Foreign Exchange Services is the only UK wide business awards to exclusively recognise the success of exporters, importers and those trading overseas.

Extract from More Balls Than Most by Lara Morgan, www.companyshortcuts.com Published by Infinite Ideas

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