Trends Of Supporting Small Business Globalization
Globalization is a dream for some businesses, a goal for others and a reality for a few. The global stage can take a business from a small local shop to a worldwide brand in a matter of months, when lightning strikes. Most businesses won't see such explosive growth.
Tools And Trends That Will Aid In Expanding Into A Global Market
The key to globalization, particularly for small businesses, is active communication around the world. Expanding into foreign markets requires communicating with someone on the ground, local agents to help establish the foothold your business needs. Smartphones, with their ubiquitous presence around the world, are a great help. Likewise, the increasing bandwidth standards for Internet service globally - and the advancing technology in cheap webcams - make web conferences easier than ever. A laptop with a built-in webcam makes it easy to keep in touch through multiple platforms anywhere in the world. There are even numerous instant messaging clients in service to allow faster, shorter communications.
Greater communication enables greater collaboration with local agents. A small business can expand into foreign markets through the use of intelligent co-creation, using native agents to localize content with a personal touch. This sort of deep cultural translation is how some companies have successfully expanded into new markets around the world. Small businesses don't have the payroll advantage to hire dedicated translators, but local collaborators are well within reach. Possibly the most important factor in global-local success is having native agents who know their culture well and who can act upon trends outsiders don't see.
With the cloud, you can essentially have everything as a service. A small business can have access to the same enterprise-level software that the big corporations use, via an online subscription. That software runs side by side with cloud-based infrastructure services, useful for any company looking to expand. Cloud storage allows company data to be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as the user has the right credentials.
Cloud services are too important to ignore, even for large companies. The advantages they offer to small businesses are paramount. There's simply no room in the average budget for the price tag associated with many of the distressingly non-scalable in-house computing solutions. The cloud, accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection, allows a small business to make the whole world into an office.
Global Social Media Impact
Humans are social creatures, and all around the world, countries are picking up social media sites. Some sites do better in some countries than others, of course - Orkut is the network of choice in Brazil, Vkontakte reigns in Russia and Sina Weibo is the controlled option in China - but a few networks find global purchase. Experienced webmasters will find no surprise in the list; Facebook, Twitter and the like are used around the world for social interaction.
Picking the right social network is an easy in for a savvy small business. In countries where Facebook is dominant, it's easy to create a global media platform to share new developments. In fact, Facebook is an excellent place to start for any business; the company is expanding into Brazil and India at a rapid pace, giving small business owners that much wider an audience. Local dominant social networks are a great place to employ a local agent, as well. Variations in translation, cultural norms and traditions make it difficult for foreigners to run a business social page without coming off as contrived.
Running a business successfully relies on data accuracy and timeliness to make decisions. If your data is old or inaccurate, you may make a choice that leads to increased costs, decreased opportunities and harmful mistakes. Expanding into a market without the knowledge that the market is ready can bankrupt a company.
Modern tools enable significantly more data collection than ever before. Social media interactions can be tracked. Customers can be traced from the point of contact to the point of sale. Every step of the way, a dozen metrics monitor and report on your products or services. It's easier than ever to discover an untapped niche and act upon that knowledge.
Data is provided by interested groups, not authorities with a history of inaccurate reporting and biased slants. It was always a problem in the past to find the people in control of data pushing a bias that benefits their own interests. By the time that data is filtered through an editorial process, how much useful information ever remained? Today, small businesses can and should trace information back to the source. It's easy to find accurate, relevant, up to date information in a fraction of the time, with no bias, today. More importantly, small businesses have the tools to collect and verify this data themselves.
An Accepting Future
In years past, the biggest hurdle to the online expansion of a small business was the distrust of new technologies. Before companies like Amazon established that online commerce could be fruitful and secure, it was difficult to gain a foothold. In some areas of the world, and in some aspects of e-commerce, this is still true. Each year, however, foreign markets increase their trust and adoption of new technologies. This year you will find collaborators using technology that, in previous years, has failed to gain the trust of native agents. Of course, there's little a given business can do to increase this kind of technological adoption; it's a fringe benefit of the globalized market.
With all of these tools available, it's easy to see how the market is ripe for small business expansion. It's possible to take a business with a small handful of employees onto a global stage, through the use of foreign agents or simple Internet expansion. Access to new markets through social media is growing and access to data and services remotely is easier and more secure than ever. The global economy is expanding, and small businesses can expand with it.
Featured image credit: George Thomas/Flickr