Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Why "Local" Businesses Shouldn’t Be Limited by Their Zip Code

A friend recently asked me why I didn’t do much business in my local area.
This confused me. All of my business is local. It’s just my definition of local is somewhat broader than most. My business is local to Planet Earth (this isn’t to say I’m not open to business proposals from further afield).
Personally, I see no difference in providing a service for a company just down the street or on the other side of the world. If I can deliver a service, either electronically or in person, and I can cover my costs and see a reasonable profit – I’m there.
Working in a sector like email, content and social media marketing for clients like iContact and Viralheat (both based in the US but serving clients internationally) helps with my global perspective. If you can access a web browser, a social media network or even a humble email inbox – we can work together regardless of geography.
Sometimes, extending your reach beyond your “local” community just makes better business sense.
For example, I recently ran a Content Marketing Seminar on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Despite being some 3 hours flying time from the UK (where I am based), the costs associated with running the event (including travel, conference facilities, catering, etc.) made it much more profitable than anything I could have done in London (which is only 2 hours away by train).
Often clients are happy to simply meet via Skype (which is free) and means I don’t have to invest in more than one cup of coffee to talk business with a global partner. You cannot get more local than a Skype chat from your kitchen table.
I guess my attitude comes from growing up in a remote village. I knew if I ever wanted to achieve my goals in life I would have to look further afield than the local community. I just didn’t know when to stop looking. But then again, why limit yourself to becoming a local hero when you can compete on a global scale?
6 Tips for Globally Minded “Local” Businesses
  1. Social Media is Your Friend: Most of my work comes from conversations I start on social media. LinkedIn is particularly powerful. Embrace social media, make new friends and don’t be afraid to push yourself out there (often).
  2. Invest in Useful Content: Storytelling is a powerful medium around the globe, so reach out to your audience with content that builds bridges and forms real relationships. All great content should solve a problem for your target audience. If you’re not solving a problem – why should anyone listen to you?
  3. Forget the 9-to-5: Working 9-to-5 is so last century. I work the hours my clients need me to work. This means if I have to be on a call at midnight – I make myself available. Mobile technology makes this very easy. Don’t forget to take a little time off as well (remote working is all about give and take).
  4. Don’t Let Your Location Limit You: People buy from people they like and trust, your location means nothing if you can get the job done on time and on budget.
  5. We accept Shekel, Dollars, Rupees: Money is money. Don’t turn your nose up at it because it’s a different colour (color) than you’re used to. If in doubt ask for payment in advance (you’d be surprised how many companies are happy to do this). There’s nothing like the sound of change hitting your bank account to grease the wheels of commerce.
  6. Don’t Ask, Assume: Never ask if your location or the fact you don’t speak a local language is a problem. It won’t be until you raise the issue. It’s always best to just to assume that everything’s cool and get on with the job at hand.
How could your business expand beyond its “local” environment? Share your comments below:

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