There’s nothing quite like that feeling when your business is growing so rapidly that your current “country” can’t contain it! The old saying “business never sleeps” has become a definite reality at this point in your company’s history.
The trouble with any big move like this is that you have to clone the business and transport it to a completely different place. A place with different hours of operation, different cultures, different languages, and an all-round different way of doing business altogether.
While an international expansion might sound intimidating at first, there is a lot your company can do to get the ball rolling using virtual office services. Services such as a virtual office location for your new headquarters, virtual phone services (including reception and call center), hiring virtual staff, and running your business almost entirely form the cloud.
Here’s some key ways virtual office services can help with your upcoming international business expansion:
Virtual office location
Don’t be put off by the word “virtual.” A virtual office is actually a legitimate brick-and-mortar address. Virtual service companies rent out several addresses around the globe, offering you a place to register your business in whatever country you choose.
Doing this immediately legitimizes your business. Let’s face it, in many industries, you’re not going to attract local customers without a local address. With all the choices available as to location, you can choose an address in some of the most highly-sought-after business districts — without breaking your expansion budget!
You can visit your virtual office whenever you need to (though sometimes extra fees may apply), work on in-country projects with your team, and meet with clients as needed. All the amenities of a regular office are included: desk, computer, WiFi, printer, fax, phone, conference area, etc. Best, clients can send you mail here, and that mail can be forwarded to your home headquarters, if needed.
It’s very difficult to expand your business into other countries without having local eyes on the ground. While your current team might be willing to make the move, there are issues like language barriers to consider, among others. A virtual office service will typically offer helpful add-on services, in addition to giving you and your team a place to hang their hats.
Services like virtual reception are very popular for expanding international businesses, since they make it easy to fill language gaps. Imagine the flexibility of having someone answer all the calls coming into your new virtual office overseas? They can take and forward calls to your mobile or work phone, receive and transcribe messages, and send those messages via text or email.
Virtual assistants have been all the rage since Tim Ferriss gave the profession recognition in his The 4-Hour Work Week book. There’s a VA for pretty near every need you can imagine, including language preferences. And, since VAs work from all corners of the planet, they aren’t confined by traditional business hours.
Sample VA services you might need for the international expansion include:
- Business research
- Legal help
- Project management
- Blog posting
- Email filtering/answering
- Content writing
- Marketing (all kinds including social)
Pick a task and there’s a virtual assistant out there offering that service!
Virtual phone number
The last thing you want when expanding into another country is to have an international phone number displayed on your website and promotional material.
Seriously, what client in their right mind is going to make an international phone call to inquire about doing business with a supposed “local” or semi-local company?
A virtual phone number tacks on to the legitimacy factor, essentially landing your business on the ground and opening the doors to new customers.
Virtual call center
It’s important to note that you won’t always find an all-in-one provider that offers each virtual service mentioned on this page. However, there are many that do, particularly if you have the budget to make things happen.
A virtual call center is essential for many international businesses that service clients in multiple locals with different cultures and/or languages. Even if your customer service practices don’t require a high level of skill, such as technical troubleshooting; a call center can still act as a sales hub for all incoming calls.
A virtual call center can be employed to make outgoing sales calls too. Having dedicated phone staff makes life so much easier during a big expansion. With the help of virtual receptionists and call center employees, you and your front-line team are assured you’ll only take the most important calls during your workday, so you can focus on only the critical tasks that need your attention.
Key benefits of virtual office services for expanding international businesses:
- Virtual office legitimizes the business while also offering a place to “hang your hat” when in-country.
- Virtual reception services alleviate a large percentage of the phone-related headaches involved in expanding and running a business in a new country.
- Virtual assistants can work in nearly any capacity, and aren’t constrained by the traditional office hours that exist in your founding country.
- Virtual phone numbers allow you to run a business in one country, while receiving “local” calls to your phone wherever in the world you or your team members are located at any given time.
- Virtual call centers practically automate your customer service and inbound/outbound phone sales.
“Work smarter, not harder.” Allan F. Mogenson
That quote epitomizes the foundation of any solid business plan, and the eventual execution of that plan. You’ve got to work hard, but also need to realize you and your team can’t do it all when everything’s all said and done.
You’ve worked hard to get your business to a level where international expansion is now a necessity and not just a dream. Embrace the present and the future, by employing virtual office services to ensure you’re not run ragged with monotonous tasks.