Starting A Business Abroad

The bureaucracy associated with starting a business abroad is shocking and is enough to deter even the most confident entrepreneur. European countries such as France, where many Brits now call home, is regarded as a red tape jungle and can be quite difficult to establish a business due to the amount of paperwork involved. However, having said that, Europe is traditionally a country of small businesses and individual traders where the economic philosophy actually encourages and even nurtures their creation.

Things to Consider

It’s often wise to work for someone else in the same line of business in order to gain experience, rather than jump in at the deep end. Always thoroughly investigate an existing or proposed business before investing any money. As any expert can tell you, an overseas business venture is not for amateur entrepreneurs, particularly amateurs who don’t speak the language! You should also take into consideration the culture of your host country and the prospect of increased business travel and time away from family and friends.

Buying an Existing Business

It’s much easier to buy an existing business abroad than start a new one. The paperwork for taking over an existing business is also simpler although still complex. If you plan to buy a business, obtain an independent valuation and employ an accountant to audit the books. Never sign anything you don’t understand completely; even if you think you understand it, you should still obtain unbiased professional advice.

Establishing your Business

Most people are far too optimistic about the prospects of a new business abroad and over-estimate income levels. Be realistic or even pessimistic when estimating your income. While hoping for the best you should plan for the worst and have sufficient funds to last until you’re established. New projects are rarely if ever completed within budget and you need to ensure that you have sufficient working capital and can survive until a business takes off.


The location for a business is even more important than the location for a home. Depending on the type of business, you may need access to major air, road and rail links or be located in a popular tourist area. Local plans regarding communications, industry and major building developments, e.g. housing complexes and new shopping, may also be important.


Hiring employees shouldn’t be taken lightly abroad and must be taken into account before starting a business. In France for example, you enter into an employment contract under French labour law and employees enjoy extensive rights. It’s also very expensive to hire employees, as you must pay 40 to 60% of salaries in social security contributions. You may even want to give preference to those who speak English depending on the type of business you intend to own.

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A Guide to Etiquette When Handling Business Abroad

International Business Infographic Part 2

If you handle, or plan to handle, business overseas then you need to be made aware of the local customs, traditions and policies that are carried out.

This helpful infographic that was put together by WD Storage covers the etiquette to follow in the countries of Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, Russia, Spain and the USA. What offends someone in one country might be a friendly greeting in another. A simple handshake can mean different things depending on what part of the world you come from. Ensuring that you know what’s what in each region will help you to close out the most business deals possible.

Stay ahead of anyone competing for a foreign client’s business by dressing correctly, buying (or not buying!) the correct gifts and talking about the right things over a business meal.

If you found this helpful but wanted to see a greater range of countries included, you can also check out Part 1 of the International Guide to Business Etiquette.

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Is Your Small Business Prepared for The International Market?

Expanding your business operations outside the country can improve profits and brand exposure immensely. But taking on a macro-scale leap also holds new challenges that may present road bumps to your projected business path. Small businesses, given their limited working capital, must factor in all possibilities prior going global.

Is Your Working Capital Enough?

To expand, a business must have money for both existing operations and expansion. It should be a no-brainer but many small businesses seem to neglect the right capital amount prior to offering their products or services on the international market. Having sufficient capital allows a business to make mistakes early on without any permanent damages to the business. An under-capitalized business will operate under pressure and thus will most likely fail.

Do You Have The Equipment?

Equipment and machinery are necessary components for expansionary endeavors. Construction firms must have equipped sites at their prospected foreign location in advance. Meanwhile, retail stores must also have the proper facilities and labor forces already set in place in the country they wish to expand in.

Aside from business equipment, moving supplies are also crucial. Look for cost-effective custom crates to make sure your business’ products can be shipped internationally without incurring damages and defects. According to a Toronto custom packaging expert from Pack-All International, custom crates are preferable to mass-produced ones, as the former can be made to suit the unique shipping needs of your product.

Cost vs. Potential Gains

Will it be worth it to expand to that particular market? Do research to find optimal locations and target markets to expand to. If the costs outweigh the potential gains, it may be better to use the capital to further empower local brand influence instead.

Study The Market

Be familiar first with the marketplace you want to go into. Who are the big players? What are the average costs for properties and materials in the area? The more you are familiar with the demographics of the country you wish to do business in, the easier it will be to identify your market and promote your brand.

Cloud Computing Technology

Cloud computing services help you scale with cheaper cost and lower risk. It also makes managing the small business simpler through increase in accessibility and productivity, all while lowering the costs.

Prepare Your Workforce

Your brand must cultivate a culture with consistent values and this goal starts with your workforce. Make sure they understand and embrace the business’ goals and overall missions, irrespective of which branch they are working in. Regular video conferences are a great and inexpensive way to maintain communication with a distant or international workforce.

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The 10 Basics of Export Marketing for Small Business

Expanding your company by targeting overseas sales is a fantastic way of developing a business. However, export success certainly won’t happen overnight and there are many potential hazards out there that need to be overcome before success is achieved.

Marketing your business, product or service is crucial to your success. Prior to launching anything internationally, you need to sit down and plan, plan and plan some more.

So here are 10 essential points to effective export marketing that should hopefully help you on your way.

1. Create an Export Marketing Plan

Remember those days when you were launching your company and you sat down and spent hours writing out a business plan? Well you need to do that again but this time to plan out just how you’re going to be successful at launching into export. You need to work out where you are going to aim your product, when this important development of your business is going to take place and how much you should budget for it.  Keep hold of this and continually refer back to it.

2. Do your export homework

You have an idea just where you are going to launch your product but you now need to find out as much as possible about that country or region. Learn about the population, their habits and what possible challenges lay ahead. There is a wealth of free information available online now that exporters can use to get quickly up to speed on all the key areas that might impact their export offering.

3. Competition analysis

It’s important that you find out who your likely competitors are going to be. Find out what they are currently doing, how they are doing it and how you can do it better (hopefully) and conduct a SWOT analysis. If you are going to be selling toothpaste into Indonesia, would you really do so without understanding who already does so and how much they actually sell? Scrutinise competitors’ approaches; take what is good and leave what is bad.

4. Make sure you overcome any cultural differences

The country you are going to be exporting to is likely to have cultural differences and you must find out about these. It’s so easy to make expensive blunders that could have been avoided if research had been carried out. This is particularly important with your advertising material with everything from your logo to the name of your product being potential hazards. A US toothpaste manufacturer once sold into an area of South East Asia where the locals saw black teeth as beautiful! Obviously they didn’t sell too many tubes.

5. The importance of language

From the emails you send to your foreign clients to the language used in your marketing material, there’s plenty you need to learn if you want to be a successful exporter. Don’t include words that may be innocent in your own country but have a totally different meaning in the country you want to trade with. Make sure you use a linguist or a professional from the target country who can advise you on your language as well as your website copy, brochures, manuals, etc.

6. Where is the best place to put your message across?

Once your marketing material has been created where should you place it to get the best results? It could be via a search engine, in the local press or on social media. Again you need to find out what works best in the country you are exporting to. Not every country will have the same channels for marketing and advertising. In some West African nations, the tribal chief might actually be your best marketing channel!

7. An online presence

If you haven’t already got a website then get one!  If you do have one then you need to make sure it can aid your export drive not hinder it.  Make sure your site is towards the top of search engines and get the site translated so your potential new customers can fully understand the message you’re trying to put across. As well as translating the contents, look at the usability of your website. For example in some languages they read right to left – how would this impact your site’s effectiveness?

8. How do you want them to contact you?

Those potential new customers have found your website and understand it too. So what do you want them to do next? Decide if you want them to email you or telephone you. If you do want them to call you make sure you have staff who can successfully take that call. There is no point marketing your service to Germany and then not being able to deal with a phone call or email in German. Think through how these foreign prospects can be dealt with.

9. Ensure you can receive payment

Your new customer wants to buy your product online but is that possible? Make sure that your site can take foreign payments. Ensure you closely look at the local payment methods people use. Online credit card payments are distrusted in Germany so what would the alternative be? Check competitors’ sites and see what they are using.

10. Don’t forget to test

As you’ll see there’s a lot to learn if this export drive you desire is going to work. Have a trial run, start off small and apply what you’ve learnt. Take a small dip in the export waters, learn from any mistakes you make and then start to grow the export side of your business. Test, test, test and improve…..continuously.

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