Posted on 11/01/2013
Some folks move to a
new country in order to be with a spouse in the land of his or her
birth. That’s understandable because, if you can afford it (or have
a steady income from somewhere), it’s a great opportunity to
experience a different part of the world. And the best part is that
you’re being escorted by someone who cares for your well-being –we
hope. (Just kidding). But there are those who would care to do some
business in that foreign land, as well. I don’t intend on handing
out specific business advice here. But there are a few principles
that you can observe that may make your life a lot easier, if you
believe that “business is your thing”.
First of all, unless you’re a successful business person already, you will be in for quite a few surprises should you attempt to do business in a foreign country. In reality, that may also hold true if you are a successful business person. Things are remarkably different from one culture to the next. So, here are some items that you will need to consider, in just about any culture:
In any business venture, never assume that you know anything about that business as it pertains to a foreign environment. This means that if you know how to run a successful restaurant in the U.S., that knowledge may not translate into your new surroundings. Approach business as if you are a newbie.
Gather up as much reading material associated with business, in your future home, as possible and take the time to study it. Make it your hobby to learn about those things before you try to make it your livelihood.
Remember this hugely important fact – rules are made by people who can either obey them or alter them at will. If it is in the mindset of a culture to block the business venture of a foreigner, then that’s what will happen. No matter what pieces of paper detailing “regulations” you happen to have sticking out of your pocket. But don’t despair – because there’s good news.
Since the world of business is controlled by people (as opposed to androids), it’s possible to skirt past many of the anticipated obstacles. In some cases, your spouse might be able to assist with that. I knew of one case where an expat was assisted to a bizarre degree by the local government, because they wanted his wife to be comfortable and the guy had proven himself to be a good husband. This, of course, is not always the case – just food for thought.
When you start a business in a foreign country, the first thing that will be looked at (besides paying taxes, fees, etc.) is how you treat the locals. This includes any employees as well as customers. And if you really want to get ahead, make sure that you do something for the community, as well. What you really want is for the locals to think that things are better when your business is successful.
So there you have it. A few tips to get off on the right foot when it comes to opening a business in a foreign country. If you were looking for some humorous anecdotes – well, those will be making their sad appearance in one of my next entries. Good luck!