Taking advantage of international opportunities Featured

12:43pm EDT May 2, 2011

As you make your business stronger financially, you may start looking at growth opportunities abroad. In doing so, you may also see all the challenges that present themselves — differences in not just culture but business practices and financial regulations, as well — and decide it’s just too much work.

“It’s just those first three to six months that are often challenging, frustrating and frightening, to certain degrees, and sometimes people say it’s just not worth it, but in today’s world, it is worth it,” says Bob Celata, executive vice president of PNC Bank. “The amount of economic growth outside the United States is huge.”

The key is to reach out to resources that can help you successfully prepare for and navigate international territory.

“Clearly, they should, first and foremost, speak with their primary bank and determine whether or not their primary bank has the skill set to assist them on the global side,” Celata says.

Another great resource is the U.S. Department of Commerce, which has programs ranging from basic to highly sophisticated to help organizations with these initiatives. Additionally, Celata says it’s important to talk to your accounting firm, which can help you with a lot of the logistics, and often trade organizations can assist with these endeavors, as well. These different resources combined can help you recognize the challenges and differences you may encounter.

“You have to be aware that there are different cultures,” Celata says. “Many countries take a break in the afternoon for a couple of hours. You have to be aware of the time differences in the world and communication networks.”

You also have to recognize that some payment services may work differently. For example, here, you may be able to do a wire transfer until 6 p.m., but in some countries, if it’s not submitted by mid-afternoon, then that transfer will go the next day.

“As companies look to do business overseas and they start to expand in individual countries, they just have to be prepared to think about it a little bit differently than they would in the United States,” Celata says. … “Once they have two or three cycles of the same transactions, it actually becomes pretty standard and pretty methodical, and it’s just continuing to follow the rules.”

How to reach: PNC Bank, www.pnc.com