Looking to expand your small business operations in another country? Whether you’re exploring manufacturing options abroad, outsourced customer service options, or remote office locations, you will need to invest some time into researching these new small business office locations. Cultural miscommunications, location-specific holidays, conversion rates, and operations differences are just some of the factors you will need to consider as you move your work abroad.

 

Here are 4 of the most common mistakes that businesses make when they expand internationally, along with tips on how you can avoid these pitfalls:

 

1. Not Planning for Holidays

 

No two countries have the exact same national holidays. Different religious, cultural, and seasonal traditions can impact everything from marketing, sales, and customer service to manufacturing. For example, before, during and after major holidays such as Chinese New Tears and Brazilian Carnival, business operations can be drastically impacted. Companies in some countries may have skeleton crews in place during popular vacation months, and major sporting events such as the World Cup can impact multiple locations simultaneously.

 

You can avoid scheduling snafus in other countries by researching ahead of time. Contact business partners who are familiar with local holidays and events. They can provide you with some invaluable insight into work schedules and productivity before and after major festivals and events. Your company may need to accommodate time off during these periods, especially if you are employing international staff members.

 

2. Conversion Rate Mishaps

 

Conversion rate timing is like selling and buying on the stock market – you will be gambling value depending on how well currently markets are performing at the time. You will need to have a keen awareness of exchange rate statuses and trends before you exchange company funds. Currency differences can also impact how you set prices and accept payments online.

 

Looking at historical exchange rates can give you an idea of how much money you stand to gain or lose during extreme scenarios. This can help you brace yourself for potential fund losses and fees as you convert money. Your business can also explore currency forward contracts, which help you lock in a particular conversion rate over a long period of time.

 

3. Ideas About Time

 

You might plan on meeting a localized business associate at a specific time. However, when you arrive, you might find that this colleague hasn’t showed up yet. Or you may discover that you are horrendously late, and that everyone has already arrived. Depending on your location, timeliness may take on new meanings. You might be expected to arrive several minutes before an appointment begins, or you may need to plan for a meeting starting and ending late. This is known as cultural time-flex, and it is important for you to become familiar with the different business attitudes surrounding timeliness.

 

4. Cookie-Cutter Operations

 

Businesses can face major setbacks if they attempt to apply the same operations standards across international offices. Marketing strategies will need to be respectful of different cultural tastes and needs. International toll free numbers can make it easier for customers around the globe to connect with your customer service reps and specialists. You can also set up low-cost online communications, such as video conferencing and live chat sessions, to reduce cellular roaming costs. Your scheduling strategy will need to adjust for remote worker and localized staff needs.