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7 tips to help IT leaders make their business an international success

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | March 13, 2013
Thinking of setting up an office or online presence abroad? Before you do, consider these seven suggestions from executives, business owners and managers who know what it takes to succeed overseas.

4. Consider contracting local people. "In many countries you can simply lease employees and not have all of the administrative headaches and tax presence," says Mike Morgan, president, Bomgar, which provides remote support solutions for computing systems and mobile devices.

"You might decide to pull up your stakes in six months," Morgan says. So by contracting with an employment agency in your target market, essentially outsourcing certain jobs, you have more flexibility and can reduce expenses.

5. Make sure you have the right general manager in place. "Before expanding into a new country, you have to have the right GM in place, who can lay out a roadmap and set expectations properly," argues Ash Ashutosh, CEO of Actifio, which provides copy data management. "Global GMs I hire are often former CEOs, with a broad understanding of what it means to run a business, and a region," he says. "They ensure that the new office does not become an outpost."

Even with a good GM in place, though, it's important to regularly communicate with and visit new locations. "When we open offices in new locations, I spend 4 to 5 weeks there to help get it up to speed and then visit the site every 4 to 6 months," he says.

6. Localize your Website--and marketing materials."Businesses need to have a top quality Website localized in the most common languages for the markets they are targeting," says Liz Elting, the CEO of TransPerfect, a language services and technology company that works with businesses to localize for international audiences.

"This is best achieved by partnering with a language services provider (LSP) with both the human and technological knowledge to handle accurate, high-quality language translation," as well as create localized content and SEO, Elting says. Similarly, if you are planning on producing marketing materials for a specific market, do not rely on machine translation. Find someone local who understands marketing for your industry and speaks the local language as well as yours.

7. Work with an international shipper. If you are just interested in selling your products to an international audience, not opening an office in another country, consider working with an international shipper.

"Our shipper handles all the shipping, tracking and customer service for all international customers and does a great job," says Anita Mahaffey, the CEO of sleepwear company Cool-jams. (International online orders are directed to the shipping company's shopping cart.)

Not only is the shipper slightly less expensive than, say, UPS or FedEx, but having all international orders directed seamlessly to the shipper "has allowed us to expand rapidly overseas without the headaches normally involved," Mahaffey says.

 

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