In an era of increasing globalization, doing business on an international scale will soon not be an option. It will be a requirement. Fortunately, laws and governance impacting corporations in the EU have made doing business across national borders easier than ever. The world of international business offers incredible opportunities for the savvy entrepreneur.
For all the advantages of operating on a global scale, however, there are also significant risks. This article discusses the benefits and challenges of multinational operations. The article will also provide strategies for leading a global workforce, selecting the best technology for international operations, and ensuring those technologies are both reliable and secure no matter where they are deployed.
Putting People First
One of the most exciting aspects of today’s global business environment is that entrepreneurs are no longer limited by geography in terms of whom they can serve or whom they can employ. That means that people, not location, proximity, or access, can be the top priority.
Thanks to the advent of global, digital technologies, for example, Zipline International Inc., a US-based drone service, is now delivering life-saving medical supplies to remote locations in Ghana, West Africa.
Likewise, significant leaps forward in mobile communications are even making it possible to send and receive faxes securely through your cell phone! And as cloud technologies proliferate, globally distributed teams can collaborate in real-time on documents, spreadsheets, blueprints, and more using virtually any mobile device, no matter where they may be!
Best of all, the employment laws in the European Union make it easier than ever for EU-based companies to employ foreign workers living in the EU, with largely uniform tax and labor laws supporting informed and efficient international business practices. This means that both your prospective target market and labor pools are significantly expanded compared to what they might have been before the advent of the EU.
The Benefits of Remote Work
Doing business on an international scale almost inevitably means that you’re going to be heavily investing in telecommuting opportunities for your staff. This can be intimidating for employers largely unaccustomed to leading globally distributed teams.
However, studies show that, contrary to popular below, remote workers are often more productive, engaged, and loyal than in-house staff. The option to work remotely can dramatically increase employee morale, even as it allows for the recruiting of the most engaged and self-motivated personnel—precisely the kind of talent you want on your team anyway!
In addition, building a remote workforce is not only the foundation for the globalization of your operations, but it also means you’re expanding and diversifying your candidate pool to include, for instance, personnel with disabilities or adults with young children who may not have the option to seek full-time work outside of the home.
Because of the scarcity of full-time telecommuting options, the remote staff you build is more likely to recognize the value of the professional opportunity you have given them and will, therefore, be more motivated to give your company their all. Indeed, studies show that workers with disabilities, which can be an important factor in a worker’s decision to telecommute, are often significantly more productive and higher performing than their non-disabled counterparts.
Tracking the Tech
If you’re going to optimize your international business for efficiency and performance, then focusing on your business technology is of paramount importance. The most important issue, by far, is going to be data security.
Damages from technology breaches can escalate into the millions of dollars, and the reputational harms may be insurmountable. Large multinationals might be able to absorb those losses but, chances are, your business isn’t one of them (yet!).
If you’re going to go international, and especially if you’re going to build an expansive remote workforce, then you need to be strategic not only with the selection of your technology but also with the way it’s used.
Unless you’re buying cheap knockoffs from some street corner vendor, odds are the business tech you choose both for your in-house and your remote workers will have auto-updating security applications.
However, your systems are only going to be as secure as the people who use them. That’s why routine, rigorous security training for all employees, both in-house and remote, is a must.
For an international business with a globally distributed workforce, though, adequate training is going to have to go beyond the standard training protocols. In addition to ensuring your staff knows how to detect and guard against threats like malware and phishing scams, you’re also going to want to make sure your team is vigilant against the particular threats that are unique to mobile devices.
For example, if your employees are using personal mobile devices to do their work, that’s going to significantly increase the risk that potential hackers will gain physical access to devices containing your company’s sensitive data.
Airports can also pose a particular risk, not just due to the potential for device confiscation, but also because ostensibly secure hotspots can easily be spoofed or infiltrated by skilled cybercriminals who recognize airport Wi-Fi as potentially rich hunting grounds.
The future of business truly is international. However, heading a global business means embracing both the opportunities and challenges that come with leading globally distributed teams. This means capitalizing on the opportunities for remote work, such as the expansion of the labour pool and the optimizing of employee morale, loyalty, and performance.
At the same time, effective leadership in a global business environment also requires extensive attention to detail when it comes to the efficient, effective, and secure use of business technologies. Mobile devices may pose a particular security risk, both in regard to the ease with which these systems are liable to fall into the wrong hands, as well as their vulnerability to hackers on Wi-Fi connections.
For all the challenges of ensuring data security on both your in-house and mobile tech, harnessing the immense potential of these technologies means opening up the world to your business. Now national borders and geographic proximity pose little challenge to the scope and diversity of the workforce you may build and the clientele you may serve. With a bit of strategy and a good deal of care, the world can truly be your entrepreneurial playground!