Tips on How to Start a Business Overseas

Starting a business overseas can have both personal and financial benefits.  Relocating to a new culture can be invigorating and allow you to achieve a healthier work/life balance as well as having the obvious advantage of opening up new markets to your business. A key incentive may also be the savings that can be made in operational costs, however, powerful as the attractions may be, starting a business overseas requires very thorough preparation. Here are some suggestions to help you on your way.

Feasibility studies

It may be that a particular location has triggered your desire to open up a business, but is there another location which would be even better? Be prepared to spend time and money on feasibility studies which will enable you to compare the potential costs and profits of a variety of locations.

What help is available in setting up?

Most countries are eager to attract new businesses and many offer attractive packages to help to new businesses. These may take the form of tax breaks and grants as well as practical help in negotiating the legal requirements.  A comprehensive understanding of what your intended location has to offer is crucial.

Consider how other businesses have fared.

Learn from the mistakes and successes of those who have gone before. Whilst much of this information may be protected, it should be possible to get a secure grasp of the business climate and how it is evolving.

Local legal advice

The services of a trusted, independent, bi-lingual local lawyer and accountant are essential. You must have absolute confidence in these people’s ability to guide you through the complexities of business law in the country where you are launching.

Local costs

Lower running costs are likely to be a key incentive, so investigate them thoroughly. U.K. office space is the most expensive in Europe.  According to Statista, the U.K. average annual, prime office rent, per square metre, in 2019, was 1513 euros; in Portugal, this figure was just 288 euros.

Workforce

This is another area which may provide huge savings, but you must ensure that the local workforce has the skills that you require. You should also be aware of local cultural practices which may impact on workforce relations and management. Bringing managerial expertise from the U.K. can help establish company ethos and standards in services and products but it may also create friction with a local workforce.

Clientele

A key element of your feasibility studies should be market research which identifies your potential clientele. Are your products or services right for the culture in which you intend to launch?

How long will it take to establish the business?

Establishing your new business in a foreign country is likely to take longer than it would in the U.K. Are you prepared financially and mentally to ride out this transition period? A closely monitored launch plan will be a key tool in ensuring that developments are taking place at the rate at which is necessary.