Expanding your business overseas is a big step and not everyone is ready, willing or able to do so yet. That said, 82 percent of US businesses are looking to expand overseas to Asia and Europe.

Taking your business abroad is no small feat. There are plenty of pitfalls along the way, especially when it comes to IT. Here’s a run down of the most common IT mistakes businesses make so you can learn the easy way.

1. Failing to focus on data security

Data is the backbone of your business. Lose it and you might as well shut up shop for good because there’s no coming back. Keeping your data safe in your local office is hard enough, but extending that protection overseas is even more challenging.

To look after your data:

  • Use firewall, antivirus and encryption software
  • Impose restrictions on tools and devices for company use
  • Backup regularly

2. Not training staff

This is one of those all too common IT mistakes. More than half of organisations experienced a security incident or data breach due to a malicious or negligent employee, according to an Experian survey. Just because you have firewall and antivirus software, don’t be lax on educating your employees around how prevent cyber attacks.

You don’t have to turn them into IT geniuses; just give them access to the right training, such as email security and changing passwords, so they can’t do any unintentional harm.

3. Overlooking support

‘For many companies, it’s critical to find a local IT partner when expanding overseas,’ says Tom Moore from U.S Commercial Service, which offers advice and partner recommendations to US businesses expanding their trading opportunities. Just as you need local sales and business support, it’s vital that you have a local IT partner to keep your services running while you hold the fort back home.

While you might find some overlap with IT systems you use at home and overseas, you can’t set too tight a rein. Different working practices and cultures may demand different technology to what you’re used to and a local IT partner will be able to set up and manage this for you.

Having a partner that you can trust also leads to independence in the overseas office. You might find it hard to release control at first but many expanding companies learn quickly that running everything from your HQ restricts all ability to get the job done well.

‘Your team abroad needs their own mission and the resources to accomplish that mission,’ says Christian Springub, Co-founder at Jimdo. ‘It poisons any chance of innovation if you have a good idea you want to try, but you need to ask someone and wait at least one day for an answer.’

It’s a big world out there

Setting up an office overseas is an exciting but difficult journey to embark upon, so don’t go it alone. For more information on how to broaden your business horizons and avoid common IT mistakes, contact us today.

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