When we moved over to Germany 11 years ago, we had already started several businesses (being the crafty entrepreneurs that we are) and didn’t have any thoughts of closing them down just because we were moving. Thankfully, we had family back in the US who could help us with order processing since shipping things to and from Germany gets expensive FAST.
Although these practices are great for our international businesses, many of them are a good idea for local businesses as well. And with the ease and availability of so many services via the internet, you’re only harming your own success by not utilizing them.
- Establish business and marketing plans to crystallize the direction your company is going to take – One of the most common mistakes that businesses make is not thinking about what the big plan is for their company and then mapping out how they are going to achieve those goals. Business and marketing plans help you to analyze all the angles of your business, establish exactly who your target market is, what you are going to provide them with, how you’ll get to them and so forth. There are great tools and services to help you create these plans, but without one, your business will soon lose focus and direction. And if you have any ideas about obtaining outside funding, you must have a business plan written.
- Use cloud computing to share files and ideas – There are multiple services out there now, from Dropbox to Amazon Web Services to the Google Cloud, that allow you to collaborate on projects from anywhere in the world. Depending on your internet connection and the service you’re using, you can sometimes even work in real time.
- Utilize VoIP and online phone services – Although there are services like RingCentral which can provide you with a local or 1-800 number which can be forwarded to any phone in the world, there are also great, lower cost alternatives like Skype and Vonage which are great alternatives if you have a fast and reliable internet connection. Within the US, services like Google Voice are also worthwhile to research, as they can provide you with free voicemail, call forwarding and more for free. With tools like Skype, you can also conduct meetings online with voice or even video conferencing.
- Start new corporations in Nevada (or another state where operating officers do not have to be sitting within the US) – Running a corporation from Nevada recently got nearly 3x as expensive as it used to be…and if you still have a residency in the US and know someone living in the same state who can serve as your registered agent, you will save yourself a bundle. But if you don’t and you want to incorporate in the US (and you should definitely form a corporation somewhere to protect your assets), Nevada is still a pretty good place to do it.
- Get yourself an international bank account that supports multiple currencies — If you intend to accept payments from people on two or more continents, you probably want a bank account that can accept at least two different currencies (like USD and EUR). An international bank account creates more flexibility while also allowing you to save a bundle on exchange and transaction fees.
- Buy yourself a US mailing address with forwarding service — If you have friends and family who don’t mind sending your mail to you on a regular basis, then you can save yourself this expense. But it’s also nice to have a designated address for your business(es) which won’t later be associated with someone else. Some of the services will even scan your mail for you and filter out junk mail to save shipping costs.
- Rent a meeting room or virtual office as needed — There are many locations across the globe specifically created to be utilized for meetings. These may be in an airport, a hotel or a building that caters to start-ups or mobile businesses. The latter will often even allow you to use that location as a virtual office to serve as a mailing address or a place to have packages sent while you’re traveling.
- Run your business from home — Now only is this a low cost solution, but it also gives you the freedom and flexibility to conduct meetings with other time zones from a more comfortable setting. Working from home can have its challenges, especially with family around, but it can also have some great tax benefits too.
- Hire a virtual assistant and freelancers to further your business — As an entrepreneur, we’re often inclined to do as many jobs as possible within our own businesses — but that doesn’t mean you should be doing it all yourself. One person is usually not capable of running every element of a successful business. So find those tasks that you don’t enjoy or that could otherwise be done better by someone else and outsource them. It was always hard for me to relinquish control of things within my companies, but I found that once I hired a great virtual assistant that I could rely on, I had much more time to focus on the more important things in my businesses and become more successful.
- Network and market online — There are plenty of platforms where you can promote yourself and your company online, from social media to forums to blogs. As part of your marketing plan, you can develop multiple strategies which utilize various services and if/when those don’t achieve the goals you set out, you go on to the next option. Some of this can also be outsourced — but in the case of most social media platforms, people like to get to know the faces behind the scenes, not just be pitched to all the time.