04/06/2014

By Martin Davidian, Managing Director Sales UK & Ireland, FedEx Express

With only two months to go until the kick-off of the Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow, now is the time for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Scotland and the rest of the UK to start thinking about what business opportunities such an international event could bring. This could be a great time to take your business to the international arena.

However, forming lasting and profitable customer relationships in untapped markets is not as simple as it sounds. The question is – How can this be achieved and what can be done in preparation?

We have compiled some key points designed to support you in getting your product to market quickly and efficiently, while ensuring no opportunity is left unturned.

Grow Your Business at an International Level

1. Do Your Homework First
Preparation is the key. Do not think there is such a thing as over planning. The more information you can gather upfront by talking to experts such as financial advisors and logistics providers, the better. With such a big audience attending the event, you should begin thinking about how you would cope with a potential influx in international demand. Equally it pays off to have a basic understanding of customs regulations.

2. Become Your Own Marketer
Make your brand stand out. Use smart and cost efficient ways of raising your profile that won’t cost the earth. Consider a strategic partnership with local newspapers which tend to be affordable or with bigger companies which have a strong interest in working with SMEs. At the same time, ensure that you stay compliant with the marketing and advertising guidelines here ahead of 23 July.

3. Create a Digital Presence
It is not enough these days for brands to have a shop window on the High Street: anybody who wants to do business globally needs to have global visibility and therefore every self-respecting company should have an online presence. This is no longer a nice to have but a business essential in the age of booming e-commerce. Just one word of advice: make sure you have thought about translation capabilities on your site as well as ensuring you research how to securely accept payments online and offering a currency conversion to smooth the process, ensuring no customers are ‘lost en route’.

4. Delivery is Key
Do not forget that if you want to go global you need to consider the logistics on how to get your product from A to B. You may have a logistics partner who already looks after your domestic deliveries but research and discuss if they also have that same capability when it comes to going international. It is important to find the right provider with the correct fit for what you need. Make sure they can deliver the advice and network required so your business can reach parts of the world which may previously have gone unidentified.

5. Know Your Consumer Laws
There is a legal framework that protects international customers through the import-export process and drafting and negotiating English-law contracts can take longer than you expect but it cannot be done without. The International Chamber of Commerce offers a Model International Sale Contract to save time and cut risks when buying and selling manufactured goods and provides clear directions to sellers and buyers, which is something all small businesses need to be aware of.

If you follow this basic list of hints and tips, chances are, you will be in good shape to really make the most of the many opportunities the Commonwealth Games will bring to Glasgow, Scotland and the rest of the UK. This could be your golden opportunity to take your local brand and go global!