Posted: Mon 2nd Aug 2021
The internet has opened up a world of business opportunities for even the smallest of companies. Here's a guide to online tools and services to help your small business go global.
Meetings and communication
You don't need to travel to a country to have a meeting nowadays as several tools exist which allow you to have video conference calls that are just like meeting in person.
There are several tools available, many of which are free. They include:
Overseas guides and information
Market research is crucial to understanding whether major exporting activities is for you.
The Santander TradePortal brings together data from several sources including a database of importers and exporters. Trade Map, from the International Trade Centre, is also useful for market analysis.
If you have burning questions about doing business overseas, you can find international trade experts on Enterprise Nation, and the Institute of Export's Open to Export service provides advice from experts.
Brexit has led to several changes for exporting and importing. Access guidance through Enterprise Nation's Brexit Advice Hub.
Language and translation
If you are properly targeting overseas markets, translating your website into the local language could massively boost sales.
If you're travelling to a country to meet customers or suppliers, knowing the local language will go a long way to improving your relationship. DuoLingo is a free tool that adds gamification to the learning process, and HelloTalk and italki help you learn a new language by talking to native speakers.
If you need to transfer money overseas, banks have traditionally been the first point of call, but they often charge high fees. Innovative start-ups are changing that. One of the most high profile is Transferwise. Backed by investors including Sir Richard Branson, the site promises to save you up to 90% in fees.
If you're a new product business trying to promote a new online store, it can be tough given all the competition. One of the many online marketplaces could be the solution because they already have the reach and within minutes of listing your product, you could gain an overseas order.
Amazon is one of the world's biggest online marketplaces. You can access free advice on how to make a success of selling your products on Amazon through the Amazon Small Business Accelerator which is delivered by Enterprise Nation.
If you're offering a B2B service, you can join Enterprise Nation as an adviser member to list your services and make connections with potential customers. You could also try platforms like Freelancer, Taskrabbit, UpWork and People Per Hour.
If you're looking to buy and sell products, Alibaba is the world's biggest global trading platform.
Allowing overseas customers to actually pay for your products and service is of course key to doing business overseas via your website. There are several options. Perhaps the most well know is PayPal which is available in more than 200 markets and 25 currencies.
Do your research before signing up to any of these services to check their fees.
This post was originally published in 2015. It was updated in August 2021.