Starting and maintaining a business comes with a number of challenges. From getting your company off the ground to beginning to generate profit – commitment and unwavering dedication are needed for any business to be successful in its sector. While there are a number of obstacles that can rock a startup in its early days, it’s arguably easier to encourage growth in your home country, where you’re familiar with the laws, rules and regulations of business.
However, in today’s article, we want to help businesses who are keen to set up their small business overseas. From scoping out a location to learning the local language, our 6-step guide will break down the most important aspects of starting a business abroad – arming you with everything you’ll need to know before taking the leap.
1. Choose a location
Perhaps one of the most difficult decisions to make, the country you decide to relocate to will play a huge role in the way you run your business. If you have family and friends in a particular area of the world, this could be a great place to embark on your new venture – as you’ll have support from people you already know, and they’ll also be able to help you integrate with your new community.
It’s not unlikely that you’ll already have some sort of affiliation with the country you decide to move to but, if this isn’t the case, be prepared for extensive research – as uprooting your life without careful planning and preparation can spell disaster. While sticking a pin in a map might be tempting, in order to ensure you’re as happy as possible in both your personal and professional life, it pays to think very carefully when it comes to choosing a location.
2. Do your research
In the tech space, competition can be fierce – so before you up sticks, you’ll want to ensure that there’s a demand for your services in your new country. From spending time researching your competition to figuring out the standard rate of pay for someone in your sector, it’s well worth setting aside some time to figure out the finer details which are often overlooked.
Legal advice will prove invaluable in your new country, helping you to understand any changes in taxes, insurance and any other aspects that could potentially damage the potential success of your business. The political climate is worth factoring in, too. Find out about the local government and how any current policies could affect your business – while this might seem excessive, a change in political power could have catastrophic effects for a small business.
3. Spend some time there
Rather than rushing into any life-changing decisions, consider spending some time in your chosen country. Whether you’re hiring a villa in Lanzarote or staying with friends in France, spending a prolonged period of time in your new destination will allow you to view the area as a local, rather than just a holidaying tourist – and this will prove hugely beneficial further down the line.
While you may be entirely familiar with the transport system in the US, starting a life in a new country means you’ll need to become accustomed to the way the town or city operates. Again, transport for tourists often differs from transport for locals – and if you’ll be traveling for work or arranging to meet clients, it makes sense to acquaint yourself with the bus, tram or rail system in advance.
4. Get to know the locals
Whether you’re moving alone or with your family, making connections in your new country should be high on your priority list. With the inside scoop on the way their country works, locals will be able to support and guide you as you settle into your new life abroad – as well as being ideally positioned to offer you advice on things like the postal service and nearby banks.
With the personal aspect taken care of, it’s time to set about professional networking. A great platform for meeting new people and potentially setting up some business opportunities, networking events offer a chance for you to talk about your skills and expertise, without having to push your sales agenda too hard. Ask around, look online and, most importantly, keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to what’s going on in your industry.
5. Learn the language
One of the biggest barriers in terms of both personal and professional development is a lack of understanding when it comes to the local language, which can quickly prove detrimental. If you’re spending time in your new country ahead of the move, it makes sense to use this time to begin familiarizing yourself with the language and any local dialect.
While we’re not suggesting you need to be entirely fluent before you move, having a solid grasp of the basics will help you feel far more comfortable when it comes to settling in. Once you can fluently order dinner in a restaurant or groceries in a supermarket, you can begin fine-tuning your accent and vocabulary to assist you in the business world.
6. Get social
With everything else taken care of, you can start thinking about bringing in business – and social media is one of the greatest ways to be seen and heard. From promoting your services to sparking conversations about the best restaurants in the area, using your social channels to build a network of followers will help you in terms of both business and socializing.
Remember to keep branding consistent across your social channels and use the first few months in your new country to build a network of support – both on and offline. Word-of-mouth is still a hugely powerful tool when it comes to generating business – so the more connections you can make, the better (even if they don’t turn into leads).
From securing visas to setting up home, there are a number of crucial things to consider before moving or setting up your business abroad – but with this 6-step guide, you can feel confident that you have the business side of things taken care of.
Nick Ball is Marketing Manager at Optima Villas and has lived on the island of Lanzarote since 2001.