Are you thinking of expanding your business overseas? Well, it might just be the best thing you ever did! Setting up in another country could give your business the chance to tap into new markets, teach you valuable lessons about your business and how you’re operating at the moment, as well as presenting you with the chance to access lines of credit and talent you wouldn’t be able to reach if you stayed in the UK.
But, it’s a daunting task, isn’t it? Setting up overseas means wrapping your head round a plethora of rules and regulations, and you’ll need to have absolute confidence in your business offering if you’re going to introduce it to a new market. However, even though that international expansion is going to be full of risk, it is actually easier than you think – if you have what it takes…
You’ll need to be inquisitive: question everything
It goes without saying, but a business would be foolish to start completing paperwork before giving some careful thought about what it’s getting into. What can your business offer this country? What do its consumers want or need? And how can you fulfil that?
You need to be able to answer these questions with confidence, and if there are already competitors operating in your market, be sure you can offer a unique selling point or sound business-argument for why consumers will choose you when there’s a home-grown company offering something similar. Then, you’ll also need to do some careful thinking about what that country can offer you – what benefits could it bring to your business? Why is it a more attractive option than another country? These questions are challenging to answer, but not impossible.
You’ll need to be diligent: learn about your market
Once you have a rough idea of where you want to set up business, you’ll need to learn about your market. How is it different to the UK market, and in what ways might you need to change what you do? This article from British Airways offers glimmers of information about particular American markets, and is well worth a read if you’re thinking of setting up in America. You should also get in touch with a trusted business contact who’s operating in your chosen market too: they’ll be able to offer you insight and advice. If you don’t have anyone to contact, now’s the time to network and build relationships.
You’ll need to be aware of your limitations: ask for advice
If you’re serious about setting up overseas, you’ll need to start learning about the various ways you can operate internationally, without exposing your UK business to unnecessary risk. Some countries will require that you form a subsidiary company before you can operate there, whereas others will be happy for you to trade if you’re operating as a joint venture or as a branch of your UK business. This stage in the process is intimidating for businesses, but you can make it easier by hiring a lawyer and a tax expert to advise you.
You’ll need to know when to share control: don’t micromanage everything
There are a lots of smaller (but nonetheless significant) decisions that need to be made if you’re going to set up overseas. However, if you’re truly going to make the best use of your time, know when to share control. For instance, if you’re setting up in the States, you can get help hiring US employees rather than handling the entire interview, hiring and managing process. You can also read articles to help you decide on the best location to open your head office overseas. Tasks like this are often best outsourced or left in the hands of people who specialise in it, so don’t be afraid to relinquish a little control for the greater good of your business.
As you can see, setting up a business overseas is possible if you are armed with a particular attitude, are willing to do your homework and are open to advice.