Important things to know when starting a business overseas

Are you thinking of going international with your business? Here are some things that you should keep in mind when starting a business abroad. It can be an exciting new step, but it can also be very overwhelming. The buzz and excitement of a new adventure will give you lots of energy. However, there will be some challenges that you have to overcome. This article looks into a few points.

Table of Contents


Your success will likely increase if you find a trustworthy local to partner up with. They already have experience and contacts within your industry. List your industry know-how and find local collaborators to fill your gaps. Partnerships can also open the door for a wider international exchange of research, ideas, and best practices between institutions.

You should also do some research on local competitors to understand their way of working. Competitive research can reveal trends in the marketplace that might have otherwise been missed

Business laws

Another important thing that you should know about, are the business laws and licenses. Don’t forget to open a bank account, costs of renting a property,… all essentials to run a business. If you have a good knowledge about these details, it will smoothen your process of settling abroad. A basic understanding of business law can help you spot potential legal issues as they come up, make better decisions, and know when to seek legal help.

Operating a business overseas will naturally introduce new tax complications as well. You may be responsible for taxes in the country where you are establishing your business. Consult with a tax expert so you don’t land in serious legal trouble.

Money and transfers

When you start a business abroad, you should be aware of the various money transfer providers as it is likely that you have to transfer money from your country to another. Compare various rates and then settle with what works best for you. You should check the exchange rates to get the best value for your money.


It is always better if you speak the local language. If you are still struggling to speak the language of your target country, make sure to pay for translation services for the important procedures. However, if you have a budget, you can always try to look for a bilingual employee to help you out.

Meanwhile, make sure to take lessons or study at least the basics of the foreign language. You can do this by joining intercambios, watch movies in the local language, start reading in the language,… an more importantly to start speeking the language, even if you make a lot of mistakes. People will help you and correct you when necessary. 

Live like a local

When starting a business abroad you should be interested in the country and its culture. If you go out and actually meet your customers, you will understand them much better. Take in as much as possible as their behaviour  isn’t native to you.

It is important to know your customers better as only they can help you get more lead and more business! Understanding customers is the key to giving them good service which in turn results into strong customer relationships and new sales through positive word-of-mouth recommendation.


Your existing network loses value when moving abroad. Therefore, it is important to build a new, local network. Go out, absorb the local culture and network! Networking will help you develop and improve your skill set and stay on top of the latest trends in your industry and job market. Depending on the country and the people, this will go quite easy. 


There are no two countries who are economically the same. It is important to know the economic situation of your target country. Issues such as income disparity and high inflation, may lead to risks. Make sure to do in-depth research from the moment that you have your business idea. 

Cultural differences

Language isn’t the only difference that exists when starting a business abroad. Even countries that speak the same language often have cultural differences. Canada, Jamaica and Australia all speak English as an official language, but you can’t approach them with the same marketing messages and product lineup. You have to adapt to the culture. 

If you want to be a successful business overseas, you have to be willing to adapt more than just your marketing. Often, you’ll have to adapt your products or services to fit the local market.


Businesses fail for a variety of reasons but one of the most common reasons is insufficient startup capital. Starting a business abroad is always difficult. Have realistic expectations on estimating revenues and expenses. Preparing a budget also gives you a clear idea of the money that can be used to achieve business goals and ensure that there is enough in hand to handle a crisis.

Make sure that you understand the local regulations before starting your business abroad. You will have to do a good amount of research before getting started. Do this research before you even make your move. If you have a brilliant idea, and invest your time wisely now to get your business running the right way, you are setting yourself up for success!

However, you should always develop an exit strategy as well. If worse comes to worse and things go wrong, you want to save as much of your investment as possible. 

Whatever you find on your journey, remember to focus on your business plan and goals.

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