1. Shop around Fully explore the finance options available – consider funding solutions such as export factoring, a comprehensive funding and credit management facility providing businesses involved in exporting with an immediate injection of cash against the value of outstanding overseas customer invoices
2. Research thoroughly Trading with geographically-distanced organisations could throw up a number of challenges. Always carry out a credit check on potential customers and make sure you have accurate and up-to-date intelligence on their financial situation.
3. Economic conditions Understanding regional economic conditions is essential. It is important to establish whether you or your customers will absorb any hidden costs such as fluctuations in interest rates or exchange rates and increases in VAT and that you understand the impact these factors may have on your pricing structure and your profit.
4. Local legislation Make sure you understand the differing legal systems – in particular, the rules governing credit in the country where you are conducting your business. Seek advice and information from organisations such as the British Chamber of Commerce which can give advice on regulations governing documentary credits worldwide, while Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits has issued a set of internationally accepted rules on the issue and use of letters of credit.
5. Overcoming the language barrier If you trade with an organisation based in a non-English speaking country, language barriers can prove a major hurdle to overcome. Have an expert in-house multi-lingual credit management team on hand to support the collection of overseas customer payments.
6. Assess the level of risk Establish and agree payment terms and payment methods for overseas customers in advance and assess the level of risk that trading with them might entail.
7. Protect yourself against non-payment Consider using a bad debt protection facility to make sure your firm isn’t impacted if one of your customers goes out of business. Non payment of debt can have serious implications on your cash flow.
8. Clear lines of communication Send accurate invoices, statements and reminders for payment to the right person, at the right place, at the right time and state clearly the date payment is due. Also consider using the services of a specialist factoring company to manage your credit management and collections. Andy Meadwell is international trade finance spokesperson for Bibby Financial Services Picture source
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