Solopreneurs Doing Business Globally

Traditionally, solopreneurs spent a lot of time refining the local word of mouth process by attending MeetUps and promoting their website with business cards and brochures.  But now they are discovering the opportunities to widen their reach through Google Business listings on Maps and activities on Social Media platforms such as Google Plus and Facebook.  Being present on line is more important than ever due to the explosion of mobile activity from smartphones and tablets.  This on-line expansion naturally takes solopreneurs into doing business globally, especially as they explore new marketing trends of full engagement face to face with people all over the world.  This really tells my own business story and I found that I needed to change some of my thinking and business systems in order to facilitate this expansion.

 Four Things to Consider When Doing Business Globally

  1. Time ZonesView of Smartphone App
    • The minute we are connecting with people beyond our own province or state, we must find a quick and convenient way to know what time it is there.  I discovered such a simple tool in my phone called Clock – see picture.  It will tell you the current time everywhere else in the world.
    • We may need to adjust our working time to accommodate people on the other side of the world.  My coaching client in S. Korea and I work on the weekend  – Saturday supper time for me; early Sunday morning for her.
    • Google Calendar allows us to show our appointments in another time zone.  See the picture above.  I can set up a meeting with her for a face-to-face coaching session in my calendar and invite her.  She receives it in her time zone and accepts the invitation which I see in my time zone.  When it’s time for our Hangout, we both simply click on the link in the calendar, and there we are face-to-face and ready to get to work.
  2. Financial
    • We must find a way to invoice and receive payments from other places and currencies.  If I am working with someone in Canada, we can choose to e-transfer funds though our banks.  My on-line Quick Books sends an invoice by e-mail and client pays the invoice using e-transfer through her on-line banking system.  If the person is outside Canada, I invoice within PayPal; client receives and pays invoice from PayPal.  In this case quoting US Dollars is likely to work best.  Some experimentation may be necessary due to changing currency values.
  3. Legal
    • We need to do research on handling taxation rules for working with clients outside our province or country.
    • We must have a written Agreement that spells out expectations explicitly.  Good to seek legal advice on the wording of agreements and contracts
    •  How do we assure others that we are qualified to do the work we say we will do?
  4. Cultural
    • Language – We know that most international commerce is conducted in English.  However, we must understand that many people are not working from their first language and we often must seek clarification. Another good reason for written agreements that prevent misunderstanding.
    • Ethics – We must spell out clearly what we mean in our agreements and understand that negotiating and exchanging money for products and services can be quite different from practices in our own community.
    • Etiquette – As we expand our sphere of doing business, we also expand the possibility of differing opinions and practices.  What may seem OK in our own world may not be so in another world.    Here are some examples:
      • Is it OK to communicate and do business with the opposite gender?
      • Is it OK to dive in and request a face-to-face conversation on-line without first some introduction through some sort of gradual text type engagement?
      • Is it OK to place advertisements into on-line communities?
      • Is it OK to use foul language in our on-line communications?
      • We must be very clear about our own boundaries and insist they be respected – but without judgment on others who appear to violate them.
    • World View
      • Some may see money and business as the most important, while others will see family and relationships or spirituality as their guide.

 Mindset Monday Question

I’m certain there are many more factors to consider, and I would very much like to hear questions and examples from your own experience.
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