What Skills Will Help You
Grow Your Business Internationally?

See also: Intercultural Awareness

So, you’ve got your business. It’s in a state where you either want to - or perhaps need to - grow to meet international demand.

What are the skills you need to pull off that miracle of business ownership and operation?

Let’s take a look because the answers may - or may not - surprise you.

International currency vector showing, pounds, dollars and euros.

Global Strategies

Let’s start with the basics, aiming for a global market is very different from aiming for a local or even national one. Not only do you have to deal with international supply lines - which can be a hurdle unto itself - but you’ve got to work with international law and - just as importantly - international demand.

What these strategies will look like will depend heavily on your chosen business. After all, a food franchise has very different logistic, legal, consumer and marketing needs than a software developer, a bookseller or a product manufacturer, but all of them will still need to deal with each of those administrative challenges. Having a strategy to tackle them is of crucial importance to moving forwards.


The world of business is one that goes hand in hand with the digital, sphere, as one invariably shapes the course of the other in big ways. It’s no wonder then that anything which is an issue for digital spaces would, in turn, be a problem for the businesses that utilise them, and that is where cybersecurity comes into the picture.

With businesses using online platforms and digital services to store and send data, cyberattacks can be a massive, devastating issue that many larger corporations have fallen prey to. From large-scale password and user data leaks to full shutdowns of digital services, knowledge of how these attacks happen and what needs to be put in place to limit their impact is vital when working as an international business.

Also take note that the threat of cybersecurity hacks and inefficiencies is one that is constantly changing, and systems from as recent as 2015, without updates, are going to simply be unable to stave off more modern concerns. As most international business will rely on sharing data through digital pathways, these are major considerations that need to be made if you’re hoping to maintain a positive reputation in your industry.

Starting Skills: Logistics, Legalities, Needs and Delegation

So the first skills you’ll need will be in these areas of logistics and administration. An online global MBA could be a good help with learning the skills you need, but the short version is that you’ll need to become proficient in the four areas we just mentioned - international logistics, legalities, consumer needs and marketing - but also you’ll need to get comfortable with high levels of internal and external delegation.

Unless you’re already running a business that runs across interstate lines, this is likely not the sort of delegation you’ve worked with before. Certainly, you’ve got employees who work for you and employees you know on a first-name basis, but once you’re working at an international level many of your colleagues and subordinates won’t be known to you personally - in fact many of your top members of staff may be unable to speak your language. Entire sections of your business you may never see or visit and you’ll need to trust that they’ll be able to function smoothly without your direct input to achieve your business goals.

Advanced Administration and Internal Autonomy

But high levels of delegation can be a risky business and it can be difficult to know just how much autonomy to allow those beneath you. Too little autonomy and the business won’t be able to function, too much autonomy and the business could transform into something you don’t recognise. This is where your administration skills come most into play. Logistics, legalities, and the needs of consumers and marketing are relatively easy to delegate out, but to do that successfully requires a strong grasp of business administration. Contract laws, internal guidelines, inward and outward-facing documentation, clear business constitutions and clear business policies quickly become key to ensuring not only that your business is still fulfilling the goals of your business, but also in ensuring that everyone is on the same page. A hundred moving parts need clear direction, which naturally leads us to…

International business people.

Changing Focus: Branding and Investors

The skills of branding - ranging from the ability to pitch to the ability to be personable - will be invaluable. You’re hitting the international stage, you need to prove to an entirely new market not only that you have a reputation worth consumers can trust, but also that your reputation is well earned. And nowhere is that more important than when dealing with investors - and yes, you will be wanting investors. Even if your company is still small, investors open up a wide array of possibilities - including leveraging the reputation of your shareholders to help introduce you to wider markets. You’ll need to learn how to manage investors and their expectations, how to hold investor meetings and be prepared to answer questions, all the while learning how to work with the desires of your investors and considering whether or not you should go public and transform your investors into bonafide shareholders, each with their own controlling voice in your company.

Of course, such a big step might be a while off, perhaps you’ll stick with specific investors or avoid going public altogether, but the bigger you get the more these questions will become pressing suggestions, and it’s good to be ready for them. Fortunately learning those skills isn’t too difficult, but there’s one more set of skills, perhaps more important than any other, that you’ll need to master…

Taking a Break

Taking a business to the next level can be intense, and nothing is more intense than opening you and your business up to a global audience. So don’t forget to sit down and look after yourself. Learning how to manage a work-life balance is crucial to all walks of life, and finding the balance you need so that one doesn’t cause neglect in the other can be crucial to a long, happy and productive life. So remember, look after yourself, and there’s no such thing as being too prepared.