How to Think Global and Build a Borderless Business

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It's time to start thinking big. Thanks to e-commerce, the world really is your oyster. By Stephanie McLean (Founder, Trendy Treat)

It's 12 p.m. and I've already had a call with a designer in Ethiopia to discuss strategy and new product lines, a pulse check call to Australia, and exchanged emails with designers, shippers and suppliers in Greece, Singapore and Nigeria.

This is a typical day. It's not uncommon for my daily business interactions to span an atlas. I am running a borderless business. I’m a small company with a large global perspective.

My startup Trendy Treat carries emerging fashion designers from around the world to customers who are also equally scattered across the globe. My target customer is the globally glamorous woman who believes the world is hers. Her passport is as essential to her purse as her wallet is. I identified a blind spot in the marketplace — the global consumer — and have developed a business without borders.

Developing a Global Mindset

The myopic single market viewpoint has been tried and tested. It's common business knowledge that one of the best ways to be successful is to hone a niche and own a single location. For generations, profitable companies have entered a few countries with a focus on having a larger impact in those areas.

Once the model is proven, take it and replicate in other markets. Then, cha ching! Congratulations, you're hugely successful. Well, in an ideal world. As most economists can attest to, this is marvelous in theory. The reality is much different.

Despite potential challenges, a global mindset is become increasingly essential. The U.S. is often the popular target market, but the marketplace is often saturated and highly competitive. So adopting a global mindset can be an often overlooked path to achieving success.

Appealing to the Global Consumer

In tech — where your business by virtue of being online is accessible across the world — the global consumer shouldn’t be overlooked.

For product-based entrepreneurs, merchandising is a precarious mix of art and science. Leaving the safety of a niche customer you know inside out to woo the global customer has its risks.

The beauty about it is that once you’ve taken the time to figure it out, you may be tapping into a larger and more lucrative client base.

Logistics

Logistics has been perhaps the greatest pain point of the modern borderless business. Shipping, import duties and export taxes have all been frequent issues for my business.

Shipping directly to the U.S., Canada and the UK isn't daunting from most countries across the world. It’s when you start playing global hopscotch that things get tricky. Asia to The Caribbean and other combinations can prove challenging. Africa is particularly difficult, with extraordinarily high rates and speeds that rival molasses going uphill.

E-commerce and logistics go hand in hand. As Amazon and other successful industry juggernauts can attest, the race is often given to the swift in the customer’s eye. At Trendy Treat, we would definitely be the tortoise and not the hare on some cross continent orders.

Setting customer’s expectations is important. People love to feel cared about and that their business is valued. I've found that by simply letting my customers know an item may be delayed because of the points of origin, setting up personalized shipping alerts and connecting with them periodically goes a long way in customer satisfaction and building brand loyalty.

Striving for a Borderless Business

In developing my business, I definitely thought global and have consciously crafted a borderless business. While there have been hiccups and lots of bumps along the road, I have been able to craft out a niche that hasn't been a huge priority for large players in the fashion industry.

The beautiful thing about entrepreneurship is identifying problems and developing pragmatic solutions. As technology speeds ahead, the world becomes smaller, I'd highly encourage founders to think global and consider developing their startup as a borderless business.

Are you trying to grow your business overseas?

Photo credit: Hurst Photo via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Named a Ms Tech #Monday Maker and a Lumiary Maker, Stephanie McLean has always been a lifelong lover of travel and a style enthusiast. After law school, she combined her passions and launched  Trendy Treat , a socially conscious lifestyle portal for globally glamorous modern women.