6 Tips for Starting a Business Abroad

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Who doesn’t dream of it? Moving to another country, one you’ve always loved, and starting a new life? Whether it’s Rome or Dubai or Shanghai that’s captured your heart, you can’t dream of living anywhere else. But before you make the big leap, there’s one thing to worry about: starting a business abroad. Here in the States you’ve had great successes in the business industry–and if you choose to move abroad, you want to be an entrepreneur in your new country, too.

You’re not alone. Many Americans working in business have chosen to start new business abroad, whether it’s starting a commercial insurance brokerage or a publishing company. And despite challenges such as complicated tax laws and delivery logistics, they’ve been successful in starting their business abroad.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. With these 7 tips for starting a business abroad, you’ll be able to decide if it’s the right move for you.

Review the legal requirements of starting a company abroad

Be careful! In some countries, you may not even be legally permitted to start a company at all. It’s important for you to review whether your visa allows you to run a business, and also whether there’s a certain percentage of the business you’re permitted to own. Some countries will even require you to have a local business partner. For more information on legal requirements of the country you’re interested in starting a business in, check out this guide.

Review the infrastructure and business practices of your new country

Once you’ve decided on a country that works for you, it’s important to review the infrastructure and business practices. In some countries, setting up a business may take weeks or months–whether it’s because of business laws, banking practices, and property purchasing. You can also decide first on what kind of business you want to run, and choose a country from there. For example, if you’re interested in eCommerce and how to make money at home, Panama is considered one of the best places to start an internet business.

Research the financing you’ll need for your move

Before you make the big move, it’s important to ensure that you’ll be able to get all the financing you need to get your business started. In addition to the usual business expenses, you’ll also want to ensure you know the costs of securing premises, legal costs, utility bills, and the relocation itself. Other finances to consider when starting a business abroad include banking and international transfer rates, and currency restrictions as well. This is one of the most important aspects to consider before moving abroad–because if you don’t have the capital, then it makes sense to reimagine your business plan and find some investors before you start.

Get to know the culture–and make friends with locals, too

Even if you’ve reviewed all the legal, logistical, and financial challenges to starting a business abroad, if you haven’t taken the time to get to know the culture, then your business won’t have much of a chance. The people of the country you’ve moved to are now your new customers–so you have to make sure you’re selling them services or products they want. Spending time with locals will also help you develop contacts in the industry, which is especially valuable if you don’t have a local business partner or you’re looking to build up your team.

Study the local competitors and business network

Sure, in the States, you might have a good idea of who your competitors are and what sets your business apart from the rest. But in a new country, you’ll have to do this research all over again. If there were competitors in the past, what can you learn from their failures and successes? You can also consider reaching out to a broader business network to establish contacts–with the expat community being smaller, it will be easier for you to connect faster and with more people.

Be patient

Once you’ve finally followed all the first five steps, you have to be patient–a business takes a while to get off the ground, when you’re dealing with all the challenges of a new market and foreign business practices. Even once you’ve made the perfect plan for your new business in your new country, you’ll have to constantly reapply these tips and learn from your mistakes so that your business can grow and succeed.

Final Thoughts on Starting a Business Abroad

In addition to following these 5 tips, it’s a smart idea to check out some additional resources for expats looking to start businesses abroad. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, has information on regional chambers abroad; GoToLaunch.in offers detailed guides on starting companies overseas; TropicalMBA.com provides information on starting a business abroad. By getting as informed as possible, you’ll be one step closer to making your dream of starting your business abroad come true.

Have you started a business abroad? What were your greatest challenges and successes? Share your story with us!

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