Any Business owner in the United Kingdom knows the importance of being able to trade throughout Europe. It is a massive market, and if you are not actively participating, your business is losing out on potential revenue. However, buying and selling throughout Europe can also offer up a set of challenges for your business. Below are some important considerations to make sure your business dealings in the European market have positive results.
Maintaining Strong Relationships
Maintaining strong relationships with your consumers in each country can be tricky. Each nation has its own set of business practices and cultural norms that will differ from what you are used to in the UK. You will need to educate yourself on the differences and adjust your business practices accordingly. Some countries prefer to take a formal approach to business matters while others prefer a more laid back approach.
In addition, countries have different work holidays that you need to be aware of and respect the other parties time off. For example, if you have a deadline that falls on that particular country’s holiday, you should make sure it is met ahead of time. As a UK business owner, you should take the time to learn about the culture of the nations you are doing business with and make the effort to adapt. These small steps go a long way in building and maintaining strong and successful relationships with your customers throughout Europe.
In addition to cultural differences, doing business throughout Europe can provide some challenges from a language perspective. While no one expects you to speak all the languages spoken in Europe fluently, there are some steps you should take to avoid any problems. You will want to make sure that any marketing materials, product warranties, product instructions and product specifications are properly and clearly translated into the appropriate languages.
When you are communicating with clients, avoid using any jargon and try to be a bit more formal. Words that are common in the UK could potentially confuse others in Europe. If you are entering into contracts, make sure the language is clear and understood completely by both parties. If it is a complicated legal contract, you should have an attorney who is well versed in both languages review it before signing.
Streamlined Payment Systems
If you do not have a streamlined payment system, your business is behind the curve. Setting up a full service payment system is essential to reducing your banking costs and financial risks. One advanced payment technology that can be extremely beneficial for European trade is SEPA. SEPA (Single European Payments Area) offers a conversion service that through a file based process, will convert all the domestic BBAN numbers to the required IBAN and BIC. This will save you a significant amount of time to focus on more important activities.
Your business will also be able to process payments through the cloud based SEPA direct debit program. You will be able to set up automatic payments ahead of time and collect funds from clients more quickly. The direct debit system will help improve cash flow and your ability to budget for the future. When dealing with multiple European countries, there are many moving parts that you must keep on top off, a streamlined payment system is going to take a huge burden off of your plate and increase your efficiency.
Regulatory and Legal Environment
As a UK company trading with other European countries, you need to understand not only the UK Legal and Regulatory environment, but also the European nations regulations and legal requirements. As a business, you will need to conduct research on each local market and put processes in place to ensure you are compliant with local regulations. You will want to make sure you are aware of any specific tax regulations the country may have and make sure you are compliant. In addition, each country will expect that you are adhering to local product and packaging standards. It is very important to keep excellent paper records of all invoices and orders so that can you produce them should a regulatory body require it.
No matter what type of business you are in, trading with Europe opens up your business to potentially millions of additional customers. It is well worth taking the extra steps to make sure your business dealings in Europe are a great success.