By Annie Xu,

Going global can take your business to levels of success you only dreamed about, but are you ready to take on the world? Guest blogger Annie Xu from, the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform for small businesses, offers some advice.

What do Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have in common? Together, these countries make up the BRICS nations, a group of the fastest-growing economies in the world. As of today, these five countries account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population and around 25 percent of global land, offering ripe opportunities for businesses looking to expand their global reach.

Thanks to the internet, even the smallest companies now have the opportunity to maximize their reach and take part in global trade with the BRICS countries and others. Building a global presence is a key advantage for any small business, but building an efficient and profitable strategy requires advance planning for success. In Alibaba’s decade-plus of helping companies buy and sell products overseas, we’ve seen a great number of astonishing success stories. But global expansion is not an automatic recipe for success.  Determining which products to source and how to source them will prove to be a crucial step in the development of your business. offers three steps that entrepreneurs should consider when sourcing internationally.

Go the Extra Distance with a Business Plan: Nine out of ten new businesses go broke in the first 12 months. Invest your time and energy into creating a marketing plan for your business. Start with the essentials and determine your budget, financing, business image and how you plan to turn customers into repeat customers. Like any new business venture, it’s almost always a better idea to start by focusing on building loyalty with a small number of repeat customers, rather than trying to grab the most customers at once.

Check Your Supplier Before Ordering: With the internet, the opportunities are endless. You can find a great product and source it directly to the U.S. without speaking a foreign language. However, there are inherent risks in doing business over the internet and it’s important to cover all your bases and ensure you’re dealing with a supplier who is reputable and legitimate. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to find high-quality trading partners while avoiding scams and fraud. Take time to research the supplier. Does the company have a real, physical address and phone number? If you Google the company, do a number of customer complaints come up?

Getting the Best Deal – How to Negotiate and Pay: Before you begin to negotiate, do your research. The more you know about the product, culture and supplier will help you maximize your potential to get a good deal. Also, keep in mind hidden costs such as manufacturer’s warranty, product liability insurance and later delivery costs.  In addition, choose a payment method that minimizes risk is crucial for both parties. It’s true that doing business internationally requires research and careful planning, but the payoff can be huge.

Annie Jie Xu is the general manager of Americas.