Running an international business with operations in more than one country is not a small feat. It takes effort to communicate with employees thousands of miles away. However, it can be done successfully! Below are five tips to help you manage a company a world away.
1. Communicate clearly and often When working internationally, communication is key. It’s hard enough to manage employees within your building, but even more difficult when those employees are several time zones ahead of you. Their work day is winding down just as yours is getting started. In order to effectively manage their work, it’s imperative you have an ongoing, open dialogue and speak to them on the phone at least once a week.
2. Bridge the distance with technology. A personal connection is important while managing an international team and the right technology helps. Sharing technology, shared workplaces and cloud storage solutions such as FotoIN partners Box, Sharefile and Egnyte make working remotely a seamless process.
Use task deadline options in your workplace or cloud storage solution, along with a shared spreadsheet that includes timelines and tasks that can be updated by all users or managers. Mobility is also key to ensuring deadlines are met when working internationally because of the time difference. You must equip your smartphone with your shared workplace in addition to your email. Staying organized is a linchpin to a successful international business.
3. Embrace cultural differences. Working with and among international and global business leaders and companies offers a completely new perspective on your business. However, it also comes with challenges, as cultures vary based on region, country, religion and more.
Embrace those perspectives and the challenges that come with an international company. It is humbling to realize that the world is actually much bigger than your native country. Leverage the unified vision all your employees have for making your business successful. If you’re enthusiastic and clearly communicate your vision for your company, everything else will fall into place.
4. Leverage partnerships and ask for help. Leverage the relationships you have in every country you touch, either via employees or customer. For example, if you’re not a native Spanish speaker, but you’re heavily pushing a product in Mexico, call on your network to get your message out.
Don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it. Mutually beneficial partnerships and relationships are key to running an international business.
5. Create and maintain relationships. Living a half-a-world away means you have to work twice as hard to maintain employee and customer relationships. Schedule a weekly company update call with employees. It’s hard to gauge tone via emails and you often gain a great deal of insight just by hearing someone’s voice.
Additionally, making the effort to set in-person meetings with employees and customers in other countries when you can is highly beneficial. Last, but certainly not least, thoughtfulness goes a long way. If you know one of your sales reps recently lost a pet or has a birthday coming up, send them a card. It’s important to show appreciation when running a startup, as long hours are a given when first starting a business.
Though it has come with its fair share of difficulties, running a business which has operations in more than one country gives you a unique perspective. With the right technology, it can be a seamless process.