Breaking into an international market can be difficult, especially if you own a smaller business. There are various ways to improve your international business presence, but one you may not necessarily consider that can actually be very effective is an ISO certification.

What is ISO?

An ISO certification, almost by definition, helps open your business to an international market – ISO does stand for “International Organisation for Standardisation” after all. Whilst this may initially sound like management jargon, ISO certifications actually help practically manage different aspects of a business. There are various ISO certifications pertaining to differing issues – for instance ISO 14001 aids you in managing environmental practices in your company, whilst ISO 27001 deals with information security management.

ISO 9001

One of the most widely utilised, respected and recognised certifications is ISO 9001; it is currently being used by well over one million organisations in 175 countries. So if you are looking for a certification to raise your company’s international profile, this is a good one to start with. Achieving an ISO 9001 certification will demonstrate that you have established a quality management system to the required international standard.  This quality management system is relevant to any procedures that manage or create products. The nature of an ISO 9001 certification will mean you regularly assess and update protocols to ensure quality control. One main benefit of implementing an effective quality management system is its ability to streamline your procedures, thus reducing costs and maximising productivity.

How an ISO Certification Helps your Business and Reputation

It has been found that 44% of organisations won new business with the aid of their ISO 9001 certification and this was cited as the main motivation for becoming certified (according to the British Assessment Bureau’s research from 2011). Here is a real life example of a small business gaining significant business after becoming ISO certified. This demonstrates that an ISO 9001 certification can make a real difference in terms of an introduction to new business opportunities.

Within certain areas of business, ISO 9001 certification has become an expected requirement. For instance, some major vehicle manufactures have made it a necessity for their suppliers to be ISO 9001 certified (of course the manufactures themselves are already certified). Another example comes from Debbie Horlock of Screenfix Windscreens who stated that “We have won several government contracts which we couldn’t even have attempted without ISO 9001”. This testimonial illustrates how becoming ISO 9001 certified can grant you access to opportunities that may have been previously unavailable.

Achieving this certification is a great way to send a statement to other organisations you may potentially wish to work with that you run a quality business and enables you to be a contender for international business. It essentially helps reflect how professional and organised your company is in an instantly recognisable, concrete way, giving you a competitive edge whilst opening up new business prospects.

Further ISO Certifications

Other ISO certifications can be easily integrated once the first one is in place because they are all designed to work in a complementary fashion, with the same basic underlying principles. For example, after becoming ISO 9001 certified it may be a natural progression to also become ISO 14001 certified. ISO 14001 can be of particular use in the current environmentally concerned political climate – it works as an official statement of your businesses commitment to working environmentally. Overall, ISO certifications in general can be a good way to open your organisation up to international markets.

To find out more about becoming ISO 9001 certified click here.