Strategies and Tools to Grow Your Small Business Internationally

Embracing flexibility and new tech can turn startups and mid-size companies into global contenders.

Written by Rick Hammell
Published on Dec. 11, 2023
Strategies and Tools to Grow Your Small Business Internationally
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In the race to keep up with the fast-paced global market, startup and mid-size businesses are discovering a new combination that might give them the advantage they need: flexibility mixed with high-tech tools.

With clever employment strategies and the latest human resources tech, businesses can shift gears quickly, find the perfect employees for the job no matter where they are and bring everyone together with a click or a tap.

4 strategies to make your business more flexible

  • Build a limitless team with remote work.
  • Employ specialized talent at your leisure with part-time and flexible hours.
  • Hire experts on a per-project basis with gig, contract and short-term work.
  • Offload the international compliance burden with employer of record services.

More by this authorExpanding Your Business Globally? Here’s How to Prepare Your Team.


Flexible Approaches You Can Employ

Small and mid-sized businesses are implementing flexibility strategies within their teams to compete with larger, more well-established organizations. These strategies include remote work, part-time work and flexible hours, gig, contract and short-term work agreements and an employer of record model.


Remote Work

Remote work enables companies to build a high-caliber team without geographic limits. For example, let’s look at a Toronto-based tech startup. It might have developers nearby but find a marketing guru in Singapore and a project manager in Germany. This mix of local and remote talent allows for 24/7 operations and more diverse insights.

The financial upside? Huge. Less money spent on physical offices means more for development and talent. Environmentally, it’s a win too — fewer commutes means a smaller carbon footprint.

Part-time work and Flexible Hours

Abandoning the traditional nine-to-five work model lets companies stay nimble and allows workers to maintain a healthy work-life balance. For example, a digital marketing company in New York might partner with someone who is a skilled writer and lecturer in the U.K. With part-time work and flexible hours, the worker can write for the digital marketing company part-time while enjoying the flexibility to continue teaching, giving the company access to a specialized skill set without full-time commitment.

This flexible model lets companies tap into a broad pool of talent with fresh perspectives who otherwise might not have the time to work for them, such as parents, retirees or students. And for the company, it’s cost-effective, as it pays for the output it needs.


Gig, Contract and Short-Term Work

Embracing freelance work is a no-brainer for businesses looking to stay lean and adaptive. A nonprofit, for instance, can hire a specialist from Upwork, a freelancing platform that connects companies to gig workers, to refresh its website. The company receives the expertise it needs when needed without the ongoing costs associated with a full-time employee, like benefits or long-term overheads, allowing the startup to stay cost-effective while innovating.

This approach is particularly helpful for scaling operations. Startups can adjust their workforce size immediately, meeting the ebb and flow of demand without the risks of permanent hires. Need a graphic designer today and a data analyst tomorrow? The gig economy makes it possible.

Also, contract work opens access to skills for one-off projects. Companies benefit from high-caliber work without the effort of traditional hiring and training. Cost control is another crucial aspect of working with contractors in technology. A fixed-term agreement provides a clear budget framework with defined deliverables.

Employer of Record Services

Imagine a U.S.-based healthcare provider is eager to hire a talented researcher who happens to live in Brazil. If the healthcare provider partners with an EOR provider, a seasoned professional steps in to handle the international labor laws, allowing the company to enjoy global expansion without getting lost in legal complexities.

An EOR shoulders the compliance burden, ensuring the company adheres to Brazil’s employment regulations without being an expert. It deals with the minutiae of payroll, tax withholding and organizing benefits, which might otherwise be an insurmountable hurdle.

By absorbing much of the legal and financial risks of employing overseas, an EOR is a safety net, allowing the healthcare company to venture into new territories confidently and compliantly.

More on flexible work cultureWant Employees Back in the Office? Embrace Flexibility


HR Tools You Can Employ

Startups and mid-size companies around the world are also discovering how powerful it can be to use tech platforms for managing their people and paying them. These smart systems make it easier to run a business and help teams work well together no matter where they are. Here are a few of the systems giving businesses new advantage:

Virtual HR Platforms

Just as a video game dashboard gives you an instant read on your progress, skills and missions, modern HR platforms offer a clear view of your team’s capabilities and compliance with labor laws. These platforms are the central hub for managing a workforce that’s spread across different time zones and specialties.

Efficient resource allocation is a standout feature of these platforms. With a few clicks, businesses can see who’s available, who’s the best fit for a task and how to distribute work to each team member’s strengths. This strategic deployment ensures that leadership staffs projects optimally, enhancing productivity and reducing burnout.

Compliance and regulations can be a maze for businesses operating globally. HR management platforms simplify this complexity by automating compliance checks, so companies stay on the right side of local laws, whether hiring in Helsinki or Hong Kong. This reduces legal risks and helps uphold the rights and protections of employees wherever they may be.


Automated Payment Systems

Automated payroll platforms ensure companies send out paychecks reliably across borders and handle taxes correctly. Automated payroll is a lifesaver for any business, but especially for startups and mid-size companies with more ideas than administrative staff.

It eliminates the risk of human error and guarantees everyone gets paid the right amount at the right time, regardless of time zone. This reliability is essential for maintaining a happy, motivated workforce. Beyond payroll, these platforms also take on a range of benefits administration. From health insurance to retirement savings plans and even the occasional bonus, automating this process will help employees consistently get the benefits they’re due without any manual overhead.


Online Communication Platforms

Modern HR platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams are companies’ nervous system for global communication. They create a centralized space where team members can engage in real-time dialogue, whether in bustling city offices or quiet home desks in different parts of the world.

Such platforms have features that help coordinate schedules across continents. Team members in New York can seamlessly hand off a task to a colleague in Tokyo, keeping projects flowing smoothly around the clock. These platforms enable the modern work-from-anywhere ethos. They provide the necessary infrastructure to support remote work, such as tracking work hours and monitoring productivity, to empower their workforce.

Embracing flexibility and using HR management and payment technology is key for small and medium-sized businesses to succeed globally. This powerful combination can give a company a real market advantage, regardless of size.

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