People may be said to resemble not the bricks of which a house is built, but the pieces of a picture puzzle, each differing in shape, but matching the rest, and thus bringing out the picture.
~ Felix Adler
Traveling to over 60 countries gave me a deep appreciation for the myriad of cultures that make up the global village we live in. I use the term village because we are more connected to one another than ever before. According to the Boston Consulting Group’s 2012 report, there will be 3 billion internet users by 2016. There are already double that many mobile users, show statistics from The International Telecommunication Union.
So when I decided to start my own business, I thought about a global team and global customer base from day one. You don’t really “go global” anymore in business. You are global.
Even most local businesses are global in some way today, or could be to add additional revenue streams. The local clothing boutique I shop at in my hometown buys from Europe. I consulted with a bakery who wanted to use the power of ecommerce to ship organic cookies around the world. A high school student at one of the youth leadership events I spoke at told me she uses a global website to find local babysitting jobs. All of these “local” businesses are more global than they may think.
Doing Business Around the World
Doing business globally requires some homework, whether you want to sell your product in a foreign market or attend an international conference or buy from global suppliers.
From my personal experiences, investing some time into learning a few key greetings and phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting is worth its weight in gold. English is widely spoken in the global business community but trust me, you’ll leave a great first impression if you start with even one word in the native language. When I was in South Korea, the room was all smiles when I walked in and said, “Annyeonghaseyo” even though I knew everyone in the room spoke English.
Beyond language, you always need to make sure you’re being culturally respectful. This has been challenging for me at times, especially when I find myself in a culture that doesn’t treat women as equals to their male counterparts. I have found the Kwintessential free Etiquette Guides to be useful for global business both in-person and online. Culture Crossing is another great resource.
It helps to work with people who live in the places you want to do business. When I wanted to start a Conquer Club (launching soon!) in South Africa, I needed to work with a woman entrepreneur on the ground there who could help remodel our exclusive club in a way that will serve the needs of women there. A global team is easier to build than you may think too.
My Growing Global Team
I always envisioned my team being a beautiful mosaic of people from all over the world and it is. Our Community Manager, Ronketi, lives in Atlanta. Our Creative Connoisseuse, Nicole, as well as our Digital Alchemist, Marie, live in Vancouver. Our Money Maven, Julia, lives in the UK. I found them via Elance.com, an international hiring tool which you’ve probably heard me talk a lot about here on the blog and in my book.
My core team works in different time zones but we use a number of tools to communicate, stay productive, and accomplish audacious goals. In a recent post I gave you a behind-the-scenes look at 10 small business tools that run this empire-in-the-making.
Then there are our Conquer Club Ambassadors who are on five continents. Scroll through our list of contributors at SheTakesOnTheWorld.com and you’ll find a diverse group of women entrepreneurs, from all over the world, and from a number of different backgrounds. I love having so many different opinions and perspectives featured on the site. I’ve learned a ton from our contributors.
I never considered building She Takes on the World another way. This has been my vision from the beginning and I love our growing international team.
Last year when I was pitching to investors for the expansion of She Takes on the World Inc., one said, “You know Natalie, I envy that you’re able to do what you’re doing, the way you’re doing it. It wasn’t an option for me 20 years ago when I started my company. You’re lucky!” Yes, yes I am. And you can be too 😉
I’d love to hear from you in a comment below: How do you take advantage of the new way of working?
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.