5 tips for starting a business abroad

Starting a business can be challenging in your own country, let alone starting one abroad.

If you are considering taking your business overseas or starting a new one altogether, it will definitely require due diligence and careful consideration.

But the truth is there are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs, provided you think about the most important things when starting out.

1. Understand the environment

Before setting up shop in a new country, ensure you know how it operates. Key factors include familiarising yourself with the legal and government requirements that will apply such as permits or visas.

If you are an EU citizen, you are free to trade and reside elsewhere in the EU without a visa, but countries such as Australia, Canada and the US require a working visa. In Australia, for example, you will have to apply for a visa under the Provisional Business Innovation and Investment scheme and be nominated by a state or territory government.

Additionally, take into consideration the political stability and economic potential of the country you are planning to do business in.

2. Market research

Make sure you understand the culture and the local consumer. Is your business the right fit for your new country?

What works on the average consumer at home won’t always translate well in other countries. For example, Starbucks was forced to close a lot of its stores in Australia after finding it hard to break into a country with a strong coffee culture.

It’s important to dive into the local culture and really understand the market. Get out and meet your customer or participate in cultural experiences as much as possible. Make sure you understand the customer base, customer preferences and their behaviour.

3. Determine Your Budget

One of the most common causes of business failures is insufficient startup capital, generally arising from optimistic projections of revenues and profits.

Be conservative on estimating revenues, overestimate your expenses and anticipate it will take longer than expected to break even. Ensure you have the required funds to not only start up the business, but also to sustain yourself through the first years of trading.

4. Take advice

There are plenty of resources which can help you set up overseas. Your home country’s chamber of commerce, business groups or government will be able to provide information about starting business abroad. You should also investigate trade and industry organisations in your region of interest.

There are also plenty of useful resources online such as www.tropicalMBA.com – a podcast and blog about starting a business anywhere in the world.

5. Consider the impact on your family

Starting up your own business involves working long hours and is not a 9-5 job, which can unfortunately impact upon personal lives.

Make sure you maintain a healthy work-life balance by building personal/family time into your schedule – a balanced work and personal life is an important element in becoming a successful entrepreneur.