International Small Business – Summary for November 10th, 2009

With our bee camping out in London this week, we had a very special international guest appear on @sbbuzz chat last week.  James Hallow (@jameshollow) braved the 14 hour time zone difference to tell us a little about international small businesses and to relate his experience with the differences in the Japanese market for products.

Know a small business owner who could use the advice from other small businesses?  Join us!

  • We’re on every Tuesday from 8-9 pm EST.  The next chat will be held on November 17th, 2009!
  • You can read the instructions on how to participate here:
  • Invite others to join in, help them get started.  We started this chat to facilitate conversation between small biz owners.

sbbuzz: Welcome to #sbbuzz, a Tweetchat for the next hour of small biz talking technology on Twitter. Join us!
sbbuzz: Rules: 1)NO pitching till end 2)Be nice 3)Stay ON TOPIC! 4)Send ?s for group to me w/o hashtag 5)Use #sbbuzz in all messages 6)Have fun!
sbbuzz: Start off w/an INTRO: 1 message about you and your business and whatever else we need to know. #sbbuzz

  • lindadessau: I help coaches and other small biz owners write content for newsletters, blogs and article sites – Intro for #sbbuzz
  • IACEZ: Also joining #sbbuzz tonight for a chat on international small biz efforts!
  • lindadessau: @helpbusinesses Hi Jacqueline, nice to see you! #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: We help manage, run, and grow business via onsite & phone consultation #sbbuzz
  • BlakeGroup: Hello, Amy here. I do creative services (graphic design, writing, SM, etc) for clients in utilities, education, tech, prof services #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @lindadessau Hi Linda nice to be here, I’ve missed many weeks. Glad to see regular team in place. #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Scott from eSeMBe – introducing efficiency focused technology solutions to micro biz. I also write about tech and business. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Michelle Riggen-Ransom from @batchblue. Did TweetChat get all fancy? “Toggle font”? Must be a British term 😉 #sbbuzz
  • pmohara: Pamela here from @batchblue and the real life person who dresses up as the bee each week to moderate this chat. 🙂 #sbbuzz
  • IACEZ: Hello everyone! Jessica Routier, IAC-EZ- the online bookkeeping app for small biz. Happy to be here! 🙂 #sbbuzz
  • CSuiteAdvisors: Nancy from @CSuiteAdvisors. CSA supports profl practices and sm biz owners achieve successful growth transitions. #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: INTRO: My company alien-eye is a Tokyo based web marketing + localization specialism. I come from UK, 7 yrs in Japan + counting #sbbuzz
  • AndrewNim: Hi everyone, I do technical project management, web, systems and some social media for smb’s in NZ. #sbbuzz
  • tuyen_truong: Hi everyone, I’m Tuyen, founder of TeamWork Live, a project tracking tool that helps people juggle a lot of projects. #sbbuzz
  • merylevans: Content maven aka writer and editor from Plano, TX, and, who helps clients build relationships & pubs inform readers. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @merylevans how are you? #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Tonight’s topic is small business international efforts. Send me any questions you want included in discussion. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Now we will be directing ?s to our guest @jameshollow, CEO of Welcome, James! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Everyone feel free to jump in w/thoughts or follow-up ?s (but stay on topic!) #sbbuzz

jameshollow: thanks guys. very cool to be meeting you all like this. fire away! #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q1: What are the greatest challenges to offering your product/service to international customers? #sbbuzz

  • merylevans: @helpbusinesses Well, you want the honest answer or the typical answer? You? #sbbuzz
  • lamikey: @pmohara turn on your webcam ‘cus i’m not buying it. #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: while you all think where to start, I want to highlight the reason that anyone would ever take on another market… #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q1: Ours is language barriers at times when the owners do not speak english or their english is not so great. #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: Opportunity! There is a chance that what you offer has the same or higher value in another market than it does at home. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @jameshollow Q1 interested to hear your perspective. For us it’s timezone for CS; currency; keeping up w/changing countries! #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @merylevans I prefer honesty, it does the everyone good. #sbbuzz
  • BlakeGroup: I have a client where the CEO/exes are in US; marketing/sales HQ in the UK. Some challenges. Each group thinks “I’m right”. #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: Q1: language is the first one for sure. It creates at least one more step in every process. before that there could be a culture gap #sbbuzz
  • merylevans: @helpbusinesses I’m not sure about that… hubs has been laid off. I know he’s not the only one, but we need to get him back to work #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @mriggen Q1: We take all payments on credit cards so that helps out a lot. Some charge int’l fee but U know what U charge #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: depends on the context – translation might be adequate, but usually re-contextualizing the issue into the local culture is better #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @mriggen Q1: I also find many international customers use Amex. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @helpbusinesses Our issue was displaying different currencies within our app. We sorted it out after int’l customers pointed it out! #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: case-stdy: iTunes in japan cannot rely on card payments – manyyoung Japanese don’t have them. here business driven by pre-paid cards #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @merylevans In all out troubles there are many opportunities & chances to start over. Look past the trouble & see the answers. #sbbuzz
  • AndrewNim: Language is possibly the smaller concern, there are large overseas english speaking markets. Then its contest as @jameshollow says #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @merylevans Look far enough and that’s all U’ll see promise. #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q2: How do you maintain multilingual translations of your site/product? Any special tricks or tools? #sbbuzz

  • mriggen: @jameshollow Re-contextualizing sounds tough. Imagine many small biz can’t open onsite operations, or pay to hire local folks. #sbbuzz
  • tuyen_truong: @jameshollow re-contexualizing a site would be the dream but it seems creating a translated site is an already big undertaking #sbbuzz
  • merylevans: @jameshollow I have a client in Russia and I do their editing for them so they can sound good to English speakers. #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q2: While we should we dont have our site translated into other languages by click of the option. Most come via reading site as is #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: Q1: @mriggen recontextualizing is tough. but in many cases it is necessary, even at the business model level. but rewards canbe huge #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @mriggen Glad you worked that out. I can see how it could be over looked. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: Q2 We’ve had requests for Japanese, Spanish and other languages for our help docs etc. May have to do that at some point – others? #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @jameshollow joining a bit late. We over storage and shipping for SMB’s in the U.S., Canada and UK. Very familiar w/ these issues #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q2: Our market has numerous opportunity on a national level but we R happy to receive the international crowd. #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @sbbuzz re q2. I often counsel ecom merchants with inventory in different countries to use store categories to internationalize #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: the language barrier is coming down. #mygengo is an online translation community with very professional service + ‘good enough’ #sbbuzz
  • AndrewNim: Sbbuzz are we missing the first question, why are you going overseas? #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @mriggin outsource your international “local” storage and shipping. Then you have local people in the market and get local shipping #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: a ‘good enough’ translation might be the first step – will not satisfy all, but still makes you more visible in other languages #sbbuzz
  • tuyen_truong: re:Q2: I know Facebook has a tool that allows their users to create translations for them. Anyone know of such a tool to allow this? #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q3 from @collectivesoft Are there any tools/services out there that help to localize your site/product for specific countries? #sbbuzz

  • helpbusinesses: I’ll put them in my prayers but the need to ask what’s the next step I need to take in my career & focus on THAT not getting a job #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @shipwire Ah but we sell a virtual product 😉 #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: here is the ‘good-enough’ translation service again: #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: @merylevans The universe seeks efficiency not desperation. #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @andrewNim ecom is global. Intern’l shipping is hugely expensive. Store product in local markets and operate like local busines #sbbuzz
  • AndrewNim: @jameshollow #sbbuzz would that work okay if the context was right? #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz The bee is going to London, in fact! To talk about Twitter, fancy that. Plus @batchblue has lots of lovely int’l customers. #sbbuzz
  • BlakeGroup: @jameshollow Are you seeing fewer differences among customers in different countries as social media use grows? #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @mriggen fantastic, you just have the currency, language and support issues and not physical delivery. #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: Q3: i do not know any to be honest. with a localization to Japan i doubt they would work, but maybe they could elsewhere #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: @BlakeGroup good question. in japan the big patterns trend in the same way, but the details differ:details are the differentiators! #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @jameshollow how do you counsel businesses for local VAT/GST compliance? Any tips? #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: e.g. moba-ge + gree are gaming based mobile communities here that are huge. you get virtual credits for game based interaction #sbbuzz
  • BlakeGroup: @jameshollow Details as in: types of products available, methods of advertising, pricing, packaging, target audiences? #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: @AndrewNim in principle it works – depends on the margin of the product you are selling! #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: @shipwire for japan you need to set up a Jp legal entity and get a good tax lawyer. no tool for that yet that i know of. #sbbuzz
  • IheartLSI: don’t rely on google translations!! find a native speaker to edit the translations so that it will read well and make sense 🙂 #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @jameshollow yup I’m seeing the same in Canada and the UK. I’ve got some how to guides with the links to the gov’t agencies. #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: @BlakeGroup yes – unfortunately all those. but don’t forget the opportunities – there has to be a value advntge. e.g. whiskey #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: @BlakeGroup throughout the Jp bubble Moet Hennessey sold scotch whiskey as the biz gift of choice. they literally made billions. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @IheartLSI Do you have any recommended services for translation? Liked @jameshollow‘s suggestion. #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: agree with @iheartLSI take time 4 real translation. Anybody know a service like Mechanical Turk to submit blogs for transl’tn? #sbbuzz
  • tuyen_truong: @jameshollow mygengo looks interesting. thx. do you have personal experience with them? #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: customrs are the same everywhere. they will put up with bad service (e.g. machine translatn) if the value back is enough. if not… #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q5 How should a small business do sales/marketing/pr in another country? All online & local efforts, too? #sbbuzz

  • shipwire: @jameshollow…yes myg looks very compelling. #sbbuzz
  • BlakeGroup: @jameshollow Yes…do diff branding than in US based on culture. Important to recognize, incorporate into biz/PR plans. Great opps! #sbbuzz
  • IheartLSI: @mriggen sorry, we’ve just used people in our network… haven’t tried any professional service #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: @tuyen_truong mygengo: yep – it rocks. i know the founders. their dual service model is smart: “high quality” and “good enough” #sbbuzz
  • tuyen_truong: @jameshollow your whisky comment made me think of Lost In Translation: “For relaxing times…Suntory Times!” #sbbuzz
  • helpbusinesses: Q5: I believe sml biz should focus on their niche local market first & expand as they master & move to other markets in other areas #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @blakegroup are you saying full product/company branding or just “localization”? #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: another eg is online learning community they have a dual model for Jp vs US. (Jp are hardcore adult students). same backend #sbbuzz
  • BlakeGroup: @shipwire Definitely locally. I see this w/ global client. We change promo materials, ads for @ continent. But could go deeper. #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: @shipwire i think both are viable. case by case. but usually you want to keep you ‘foreigness’ and use it to your advantage. #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: @sbbuzz q5 for product companies they can leverage local country marketplaces (ebay, Amazon, etc) to test price points. #sbbuzz
  • IheartLSI: @BlakeGroup Danon yogurt is an example, in France Danone- to market to americans they changed the spelling & focus #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: even if you introduce a new service to a market you can be copy-catted quickly by locals. so your foreignness should have a +value #sbbuzz
  • jameshollow: Q5: if at all possible find a local shop that knows the market but is also savvy enough to know what you are back home #sbbuzz
  • shipwire: q5. if you have product that sells $$$ you have rebranding options; many SMB’s want to deploy a small amount of inventory and test. #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q6 from @andrewnim How useful have Govt export agencies been in helping? #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Time flies! It is now what we affectionately call Pitch Time. Everyone – please tell us a little about your business. #sbbuzz



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