Going Global: What You Need to Know Before Expanding Internationally

By Thursday, July 2, 2015 0 No tags Permalink

It seems like yesterday when you first decided to launch your small business. It may not have been much. But it was all yours. You might have even found it rather surprising how much responsibility there really was in such a small and insignificant venture. Leasing office space meant that you were in it for at least a year. Hiring your first employee would have been a whole other awakening.

Now, it’s time to grow beyond the borders. You are about to become an international enterprise. If your nerves are aflutter, they should be. If you don’t handle this process with precision, you will find your business smashed against the rocky shores of a foreign land. If you are not nervous, you are either a veteran of the process, or you are simply unaware of the challenges that lie ahead. In case it’s the latter, here are just a few of the things you are going to need to consider:

The Investment Landscape

When you expand your business to the UAE, it will be a whole new world. Your lack of experience in that region should in no way stop you from taking advantage of investment opportunities. It just means you are going to have to find a local partner well versed in the field.

If you are considering Abu Dhabi, you might review the 2013 joint venture of Al Masah Capital and Al Hail Holding.  According to the Khaleej Times article of 25th February 2013, Shailesh Dash, founder and CEO of Al Masah Capital was very pleased to have opened the office in Abu Dhabi “…as an important step towards realising our long term goals……..”

Healthcare and education are two sectors requiring a great deal of local knowledge. Different locales will have different experts. For investment advice in South Korea, you might start with Macquarie, or Mertz- International Korea. When you go global, be sure to tap into the local expertise.

Different Flavors of Capitalism

The U.K. is not the U.S.. Neither is any part of the EU. We may have television, musical, and culinary compatibility. But the similarities are largely skin deep. The political doctrines of the various nations may include some form of capitalism. But the amount and flavor of capitalism differs greatly.

While no system is perfect, the U.S. tends to err on the side of business, while European countries tend to err on the side of the consumer. You would do well not to forget this when you post your caveat emptor sign in the window.

Apple learned this lesson when they brought their U.S.-centric Apple Care policies to Europe. They were forced to comply with local standards. That also extends to hardware. Apple products might face similar change. By 2017, Proprietary chargers for electronics will be disallowed.

If you are not well-versed in the particular flavor of capitalism where you plan to do business, it will be a costly lesson to learn after the fact.

A Worker’s Paradise

Compared to the U.S., other parts of the world can be a worker’s paradise. Being unaware of the difference in labor laws will quickly put you out of business, especially if that business is in France.

The labor laws differ from place to place. In France, you will have to have to offer an employment contract, knowing the difference between an open contract and a fixed contract. Your employees’ workweek maxes out at 35 hrs. In France, they have less time on the job and more paid time off. There is no “at-will” employment. letting go of an employee is as difficult as getting rid of a teacher with tenure.

Going global is the second most difficult thing you will do with regard to your business. The most difficult thing is just keeping it alive for the first five years. By the time you are ready to expand, you have likely already done the toughest part.

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