11 simple steps to international expansion

When your product or service is great and you have more or less conquered the local market, the next step for growth is to look at overseas expansion.

For many, the thought of opening a trading entity in a different country or relocating some of their employees may seem a daunting and laborious prospect, and the largest barrier to this growth opportunity is not knowing what to do.

Here is a handy little list of areas you will probably need to consider that will hopefully give you more confidence to take your first step on what could be a very exciting and rewarding journey.

Legals

Speak to legal experts in the host location to ensure you have the most appropriate corporate structure. Do you need to protect your intellectual property? Also, consider contractual terms and employee matters taking into account what is acceptable locally.

Location, location, location

Where do you need to be? Near transport links? Near tech universities? Identify your preferred geographical location then investigate local support and government resources. Finally, what are your property needs and who is going to find the right premises?

Tax structure and compliance

Speak to a global tax specialist to establish and set up efficient and compliant home and host tax structures.

Immigration and employee relocation

Ensure you have the correct visas for any travelling staff and identify employees you may need to relocate and whether you need to use an employee relocation management company to support their relocation.

Banking

You will need to establish local banking facilities.

Recruitment

Identify current and future staffing needs and recruit the right team using the most appropriate and efficient methods available.

Auxiliary support services

You will need to consider who is going to administer your HR function locally, deliver payroll, manage employee benefits in line with customary and legal parameters, withhold and report tax, and handle the bookkeeping.

Insurance

You should arrange adequate cover to mitigate risks to your business. This may vary depending upon location and the business sector you are operating in.

Incentives

Identify any government programmes that may benefit your company, in terms of grants, finance and loans, and business support, e.g. mentoring.

Investment

If you are seeking local investment, be prepared. Know your stuff and have ready a one pager and a slide deck that clearly demonstrates your business and your proposition.

Sales and marketing

Consider test selling and test marketing to establish what the local client base wants and maximise your opportunity. 

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK