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Basics Tips to start doing Business Abroad
by Startacus Admin
Determining when you are ready to expand and deciding what country you are going to expand to first are just the first, easiest steps. There is a lot to think about and, as always, doing your homework thoroughly beforehand is vital to helping ensure success and reduce stress (rhyme definitely intentional). So here are some things you’ll need to consider before and during your hard-earned expansion.
If you have partners, sponsors, stockists, manufacturers, or even high-value customers abroad, it can be a good idea to either visit them, or host their visit to your country. The value and viability of this will vary depending on the type and size of your business, but building this kind of close relationship will bridge the gap created by physical distance. Just be sure you know the culture and customs well enough not to take or cause offense during the visit!
Know the law
Laws and regulations will differ in other countries, and there may be plenty of paperwork and permits, etc., that you wouldn’t need to have in your own country. So ensure that you have everything you need and that your contracts are solid, which probably means getting a specialist lawyer, as they would need to understand how things work in both countries, but at least a local one. If possible, make sure these contracts are enforceable in your own country, otherwise a breach could be an even bigger headache than it needs to be.
There are, of course, some countries whose cultures and tastes are similar enough that what works in one will work in another, but as you expand your business into countries where things are a bit different, your default business practices, logos, taglines, adverts, and so on, may not work anymore. Netflix has a very simple logo - it’s name - but does that still work in countries that don’t use the Roman alphabet? Similarly, you might have symbolism in your logo, or perhaps a pun in your tagline, that just doesn’t translate. Determine what needs to be changed to target specific countries.
Know the market
This almost goes without saying, but we’re saying it. In order to have reached the stage where you’re in a position to expand to other countries, you must know your market well; you will know your competitors and your customers. But going overseas means almost starting again in some respects. You need to relearn the market as it stands in that country, you need to understand the customers you are hoping to net, and you need to determine what kind of competition you are up against there. Remember, if it comes to choosing between a local business and a foreign business doing the exact same thing, most people will choose the locals. So what is it about your business that will entice them to you instead? And how will you get around the fact that local business will have stronger and better contacts and networks than you?
Partner might be a strong word, but some kind of consultant or representative in this foreign country would be a good idea, perhaps even a necessity as above. This representative would be a local person or business who already has connections and contacts of their own, will know many of the things listed above, such as local competition and, of course, the culture and tastes of the prospective customer base. Again, it goes without saying that you should maintain a good relationship with this representative and, as per the first entry of this article, visit them or host their visits fairly regularly. Consider even the method you use to keep in contact - email is very impersonal, and phone calls, while obviously better, aren’t as good as video conferencing. In short, this is a crucial relationship, so make sure to treat it as such.
It’s a good bet that, since you are running a business, you’re somewhat interested in money, and this has to be one of the considerations when expanding to another country. Consider the need for an international bank account, consider currency options, consider currency fluctuations. Keep in mind the advantages that offering to pay, or accept payment, in the local currency might give. For example, if you are invoiced in your own currency, there is likely a cushion included to protect against the aforementioned fluctuations - offering to pay in the local currency might save you a little money, but also gives the opportunity to discuss a discount for doing so, since it makes things easier for them.
Our last tip is simply not to lose sight of your business goings-on at home. It might be a little too easy to focus too much on your foreign expansion and miss important developments within your own local market, so beware this.