10 tips to expanding a business abroad

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Are you looking to expand your business abroad to increase sales or are you mainly aiming to extend your global footprint? Is keeping ahead of the competition your greatest concern? Whatever your goals are, going global provides a major business growth opportunity while boosting international economy. Though there are many benefits to expanding abroad, the process can be tricky for a first timer… 10 steps towards successful international expansion.

1. Be informed !

Before any strategic decision making occurs you need to learn about the country you wish to do business in: culture and customs, political and economical situation, spending habits, entry requirements, business environment, foreign trade…

2. Study the market.

Researching your target market and local competition will allow you to know if your company, products and/or services are of any interest in the country you aim to expand in.

3. Learn about legal and tax issues.

Get thorough and reliable information about regulations and tax schemes: local law, international agreements, regulated activities, employment practices, customs procedures…

4. Get help !

Many governments and organizations support investing abroad by providing businesses with advice and assistance. Make the most of any help you can get from embassies or consulates, Chambers of Commerce, Trade Missions…

5. Consider training.

Enrolling in a training program such as export or foreign trade courses, can be an effective way to gain extra global expertise.

6. Choose the right business structure.

Knowing what your goals are is the key to selecting an adequate business structure for expanding abroad. Depending on the legal structure you choose (representative office, branch office, subsidiary, joint venture…) tax rates might be extremely different. Administrative procedures vary from one country to another. Study each possibility before making a decision!

7. Seek funding and insurance options.

Many countries have set up government funding programs to support business international expansion. Determine if your business qualifies for government support. You also need to find the right insurance solutions to protect your business against trade and political risks.

8. Hire and train employees.

International growth often leads to changes to human resources management. You will necessarily either be hiring employees or sending staff abroad. This is when you might consider employing a Volunteer for International experience (VIE) or planning international assignments… Providing quality training (safety abroad, cross-cultural training, foreign language crash courses…) for your employees also is highly recommended in some situations.

9. Protect your employees abroad.

Ensure the safety of the staff you intend to assign abroad: build a risk management plan, select an insurance for expat employees

10. Remember there might be other procedures to go through.

Depending on your project and the country you aim to invest in, you might need to complete extra tasks such as: setting up a bank account abroad, applying for visas and/or work permits, registering a trademark abroad…

To find out more about expanding a business globally:

Use the Doing Business website (International Finance Corporation & The World Bank) to learn about business forming procedures in 185 countries.

Take a look at the Coface solutions, designed to support business growth around the world. 

Date of publication Sep 5 2013

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