There are plenty of reasons why you might want to expand your business into new territories. It gives you a much bigger market to play with than you currently have, for a start. And there could be valid financial reasons for setting up shop in another country – perhaps you are already shipping a lot of products out there already.
But thinking about doing business abroad is one thing. Setting up and enjoying success is another entirely. Even when you have ticked off all the legal requirements, secure your funding, and have got permission to get started from the nation you intend to go to, there is still a lot get right before you can take your foot off the breaks.
In this guide, we’re going to reveal some of the best tips out there for doing business in another country – wherever in the world in might be. Read on to find out everything you need to know about getting to grips with customs, traditions, international business practices and a whole lot more.
Contacts will help
It can be incredibly difficult to set up a business in another country without having a few contacts in the host nation. Yes, an international trade lawyer and accountant can help you pull some strings from home – and are essential – but a contact or two in the place you intend to set up will prove invaluable. There is a lot to learn, from quirky customs through to strange business practices which might appear alien to you right now. And if you want to achieve success, you will need to find out everything you can, a lot of which you can only learn from a local.
Research is critical
The world is in a constant state of flux. One minute a country can be doing incredibly well and is a valuable prospect for business owners wanting to expand their companies abroad. But the next, social and political issues could cause a lot of trouble, and ending up in an unstable country that is experiencing a lot of problems can be disastrous. Don’t forget, wherever you are in the world, a national crisis of any kind often results in scapegoats, and foreigners are often the first targets.
Don’t be afraid to break the mold
Many business owners have plans to break into popular business locations. But look elsewhere, and you might find more suitable countries to take your business that has less competition. Let’s say you want to break into the Middle East. Instead of going abroad to popular business locations such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there are plenty of other options in that part of the world. Take Ras Al Khaimah, for example. Under the guidance of leader Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi, the nation has established itself as a robust and thriving market with a diverse economic base. Sure, the big hitting business countries of the world are always worth investigating, but you might find a more suitable market – and more potential – elsewhere.
Not every country in the world runs at the same pace. And it can be exasperating for business owners who are used to getting things done yesterday. The simple truth is that the pace of life and national – and regional – customs will dictate how you go about your business, and you can’t expect people to change just because you are from another country. Be patient, and focus on building reliable and robust relationships with as many people as possible. Yes, it’s going to take some time on some occasions – but it will be worth it.
Buy a phrasebook
Don’t assume that everyone you speak to will want to do so in the language of your choice. Most people will make an effort, of course, especially if there is a business to discuss. But you should try and acquaint yourself with some straightforward and basic phrases, as it can make a difference to your chances of striking a deal. Most important of all, however, is that you learn how to pronounce people’s names correctly., It can be trickier than you think, and it can also be incredibly rude to mispronounce someone’s name – particularly when you are trying to impress them.
Bring a suit
You might be used to wearing casual clothes for business at home; depending on your industry, of course. But don’t assume that doing the same will be OK while doing business abroad. The fact is that in most countries, business leaders will expect a particular dress code. You can never go wrong with a suit, whether you are a man or a woman, so make sure you dress smartly for every occasion. Ultimately, even if you overdress, at least you can dress down at a later stage. Turning up in jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers, however, might ruin your chances of striking a deal the moment you turn up.
Bring an exit strategy
Finally, as a successful business owner, you should already know about the importance of having an exit strategy. And it’s no different for when you move abroad. Whether it’s to sell your company to another business in five years or to just pass it on to a family member or partner, it’s important to have an idea of where things will go. The big decisions that you make in business will often have enormous implications at some point down the road. And when that path is in another country, there are even more complications and possible outcomes to deal with. So, consider your options for getting out of the business as much as you think about setting up abroad.
Finally, be careful not to judge anyone in the host country, or to compare it to the way everyone does business in your home nation. Whatever you think about the local customs and culture – some of which you might find extreme – the bare facts are that you can’t change anything and you don’t have a choice. If you can’t accept the host nation’s reality, then you are better off going elsewhere.