How to trade overseas

If you are keen to expand your business by dealing outside of the UK, then there is absolutely no reason why you should not do so.

Sometimes you may need to invest in funding certain aspects of your expansion, with the good news being that organisations like wongaforbusiness and others might be able to help at relatively short notice.

In terms of the basic principles, here are a few things you will need to think about:

  • currency.  The pound Sterling is likely to be your base business currency but if you are dealing overseas, it won’t be that of your customer.  That means you will need to think about possible currency fluctuations when you are setting prices and you may need advice on something called forward currency contracts.  You may be able to get help from your bank or some of the many excellent online currency trading organisations;


  • language.  It might be unrealistic to expect you to deal exclusively in the language of overseas customers, irrespective of where they are in the world.  Some languages may be minority tongues and online translations are typically extremely limited or comically bad.  Much business globally is conducted in English but even so, when making sales propositions, it might be an excellent tactic to initially get your quotations and other documentation professionally translated into your customer’s language;


  • customs and conventions.  It would be possible to write a book on this subject but suffice it to say it is advisable to do a little research on the business customs applicable in the country you are looking to sell to.  These may be complicated and possibly even politically incorrect by your values but remember that you are not the customer;


  • humour.  One of the great distinguishers between peoples is humour.  Therefore, use it with extreme caution because it is easy to be completely misunderstood and for your new potential customer to take offence;


  • time zones.  Depending on where your new target market is, you may have to accept that you are going to need to adjust your working hours.  Your clients may not tolerate a constant 24-hour delay in obtaining updates and information from you during their business day.


  • credit control.  Be particularly careful about extending credit to companies overseas.  You may have difficulty in enforcing recovery actions.


There is a great tradition of global trading in the United Kingdom.  Why not join in!