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Setting up a Business Abroad: 5 Things You Must Consider

By: Annie Button



Business owners and entrepreneurs are no longer tied to the countries they live in when setting up shop. Somewhere abroad is attractive for cheaper tax or rent, or it may be that a different way of life is calling your name.

Whatever the reason for setting up a business abroad, it’s important to understand what you are getting yourself into. From finding the right staff to picking the perfect location, let’s look at the essential considerations for starting a business abroad.

1. Putting the right people in place

Whether you are setting up a new business or moving parts of your existing one to a new country, success hinges on getting the right people in place. Not only do you need someone who may be willing to relocate, you also need their skills to match the needs of your business abroad. For example, no matter how competent they are, someone from sales might not be ideal for technical direction.

Bringing someone into your organization whose skills complement your own will ensure you cover more bases than if you just go it alone. They can plug some of the knowledge gaps you may have. Additionally, other people you hire, no matter at what level, should represent your business culture.

Setting up a company abroad can come with challenges but having everyone singing from the same sheet helps to pull your employees in the same direction. Of course, finding people who represent your business culture isn’t limited to the country you are from.

You may find locals who represent your core values just as much but it’s important to understand they won’t know anything about your business at the beginning and may be skeptical.

2. Location, location, location

Just like moving house, the location of your new business or office is vital. Fortunately, there is a way to find a new location for your business without having to trek the world. Unless you feel like putting in the miles and seeing more of the world, of course!

The US News and World Report publish a yearly Open for Business report which lists which countries are the most business-friendly. The current top three countries are Switzerland, Panama, and Canada.

Finding a country to set up in is a little more involved than simply picking a random spot on a map. It’s also essential to consider what the local laws are and whether they pose an obstacle to setting up.

Another consideration about the location of your new office or headquarters is its proximity to airports and cities. This is particularly useful for facilitating overseas customers. It’s also an important aspect of your general livelihood.

It’s much easier to come and go when you are closer to a city and airport but you may find that things like rent and general running costs are cheaper a bit further out. Try to weigh up the pros and cons of moving your business close to a hub.

3. Understanding local markets

You need to know the laws of the country you plan to set up in and work out whether they will even allow you to establish your business or not. There are plenty of things to consider regarding local markets such as local statutes, visa requirements, payroll taxes, and insurance.

You may find it difficult to even open a bank account abroad so it’s important to enlist the help of a local solicitor or financial advisor to show you the ropes. There are other factors such as data protection laws that may transform or halt your plans, especially when considering a move to Europe.

You also need to find the right property, which often takes someone with local knowledge to point out the benefits and problems of particular sites. Overseas property and conveyancing experts can assist with the myriad of legal and commercial issues involved in a development project while working closely alongside public and private stakeholders.

What property conveyancing and leasing experts can do for your move:

  • The sale and purchase of commercial property
  • Advising about commercial and retail leases
  • Tax considerations
  • Resolution of property disputes
  • Planning and construction law advice
  • Pre-sales involving reservation and lease agreements
  • Property due diligence
  • Reports on title, drafting, and negotiating loan facilities
  • Advising on property covenants, representations, and warranties

4. Appreciating cultural values

Globalization has arguably made the world a closer place with many shared views and aspirations but there remain many different cultures. We’re all different and it’s important to realize this when starting a company in a new country.

Doing business overseas often means adapting the way you work to suit the values and attitudes of clients and cultures that differ from yours. Some cultures would not welcome a friendly chat about their family during a business meeting due to a strict separation from business and personal life.

You may find that some cultures also have different communication norms from your own. For instance, in the UK looking someone in the eye while talking to them is seen as respectful, while in Nigeria the opposite is true.

Finally, timings are important and some cultures like business meetings to be prompt and on time, while others like to arrive early, such as in China. It’s important to understand and appreciate the cultural values to ensure a smooth transition from your old home to a new country.

5. Immerse yourself and network

Ultimately, the success or failure of your business venture abroad relies on your ability to immerse yourself in your new culture. Sure, the move might be motivated by finances, such as cheaper rent, labor, or taxes, but integrating your business into local life will make it feel like a part of the community.

Ways you can help immerse yourself include learning the language and living like a local. Cutting yourself off from society can make moving to a new country hard enough but it’s also harder for things like networking and improving your business relationships.

It’s important to network with local entrepreneurs to better understand markets and the local consumers. Immersing yourself in your new community will also improve your understanding of any local competition and what you could be doing better.

Published: February 26, 2022

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