USEFUL TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADEMany businesses are increasingly looking for customers beyond their domestic market. With a good strategy, foreign markets can offer fresh opportunities, competitive advantages and new challenges. Internationalisation has become a commonly used term in business and is no longer reserved just for the big companies.

International trade can be an exciting area of business, although one that involves challenges and difficulties that a company might not face in its domestic market. Setting up your business abroad, obtaining licences for your products or registering trademarks can involve different procedures to those you may be used to back at home. Companies such as Vanner Perez Notaries offer services intended to help with some of the formalities. Specialised legal advisors may also be required for visa requirements in certain countries. Chambers of commerce and other institutions can help with the commercial aspects of the move.

These are some of the things to bear in mind when planning your expansion to other countries:

Make sure you understand the market you will be trading in: local knowledge is key and can help you identify opportunities and be better prepared than other international competitors. Having some previous connection with the relevant country, and a local network of contacts, can be of invaluable help.

Obtain legal advice for the correct setting-up of the business. Whether you establish a branch, set up an entirely independent company or appoint a local agent, there will be legal procedures to follow. Depending on your set-up, you may have to register with the local commercial registry, the local tax authorities and even the social security authorities if you are hiring staff locally. You may need permits or licences to start commercialising certain products or offering certain services. If you are exporting from Britain, the UK government’s guidance for new exporters can be a good first port of call.

Make use of help available from chambers of commerce and other institutions that offer assistance for businesses like yours. Assistance may be offered by chambers of commerce promoting exports and the growth of businesses abroad, or by local government institutions promoting foreign investment in the relevant country. The website of the UKTI contains extensive information for businesses looking to export and operate in foreign markets. Keep an eye on events such as international exhibitions relevant to your sector, or trade missions and commercial visits to your target market.

Protect your products and services. If your business owns trademarks, patents or other intellectual property, make sure they are duly protected. Having your trademark registered at home does not automatically mean you are protected anywhere in the world. For businesses trading within the European Union, the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market is probably the best source of information regarding trademarks and designs.

Use professional translation and language services. If a different language is spoken in the market you are expanding to, make sure any language barriers are effectively dealt with. It is not just about communicating effectively with your contacts in the country. The adequate translation of any advertising materials is key to engage with the local consumers. Specialised translation agencies offer localisation services that will help you not only translate materials to the local language, but also adapt them to the local culture and consumer expectations.

There is no doubt that a good product and a well-thought strategy are essential for a successful business, whether at home or abroad. There are, however, many other factors to take into account if you are trading internationally. Make sure you research the market well and benefit from any help at hand. It is essential that you obtain adequate and professional legal advice to help you navigate through the legal procedures and requirements of the chosen market and, where necessary, seek specialised language services to make sure your business communicates effectively with its intended audience. Above all, before taking the big step, make sure you have armed yourself with all the advice and information you need to face this new challenge.

Editorial Team
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