If your company is performing well, you may likely be considering expanding your business overseas to capture a larger market of consumers. In today’s world, technology has made the world “smaller,” so working across borders can seem as easy as working across state lines. However, there are a few things to contemplate and plan for before going across the border. Here are a few steps to get you started.
- Build an expansion team. One of the most crucial elements of a successful expansion into another country is to have a group of experienced people you can rely on to guide you through the process. These experts will help you successfully navigate such as:
- Business laws and regulations,
- Accounting regulations and procedures,
- Employment law,
- Real estate processes,
- Contract negotiations, and
- Unwritten social norms.
- Understand the target market. Of course, before entering another country, you need to understand the opportunities of the target market if the residents of that country will be your customers. This step may require you to partner your marketing professionals with local marketers to conduct research and measure the true profit potential of the new location. At the same time, look for feedback and observations about how you can best promote your product or service to people living in this different culture. Advertising campaigns that work well in the United States may confuse or simply not connect with consumers of another country.
- Focus on building your staff. Most companies will need to have staff in the other country. Talking with local staffing professionals early on will give you valuable insight into the feasibility of your business idea, where you may want to locate it to attract the best candidates, and how long it will take to hire and train the teams you need. You should also determine if you need an employer of record (EOR) or professional employee organization (PEO) to manage staffing in a foreign country.
- An EOR is usually required if you don’t have a legal presence in a foreign country. The EOR manages your staffing needs, from recruitment and hiring to payroll processing and benefits administration. The staff all remain employees of the EOR. Think of this arrangement as that of many temporary staffing services in the United States.
- If you have a legal presence in the other country, you can use a PEO. A PEO does much of the same work as an EOR; however, the staff they hire are employees of your company instead of the PEO.
- Investigate technology and data security. There are many complications with international business that you can overcome with a solid technology infrastructure. Technology can help people communicate across borders inexpensively and in real-time, and cloud storage solutions facilitate teamwork regardless of where the members reside. For example, you’ll need to consider where data is stored–will you have physical servers, what are the security or laws of that location, and where will you backup your data in the event of disaster or security breach? How will employees communicate or share documents? What is the security level of internet service providers in a foreign country?
- Hire a professional translation service to partner with you. Expanding your business overseas means you will need to translate nearly all your materials into a foreign language–from contracts to employee manuals and product advertisements. A professional translator should be fluent in both languages and be experienced in the particular line of work (agreements, human resources, marketing, etc.) to ensure the translations are accurate and meet the cultural expectations of the other country.
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