Running a business is hard. Especially if it isn’t local.
There’s compounding paperwork. There are many logistics to consider. Also, there are more costs, with higher error margins.
However, starting an overseas business is rewarding – specifically in the right niches.
Below, we’ll discuss this idea. We’ll give a brief guide into the challenges of overseas entrepreneurship.
Use it to set expectations. It gives you a roadmap that keeps you committed, and pulls you out of disappointment!
#1 – Legal Paperwork.
Your business structure must be legal.
For that, you’re not relying on local efforts. You can’t contact a local financial law firm.
You’re dealing with overseas lawyers.
There are language barriers to consider. Then, there’s a different legal system.
The regulations you’re accustomed to back home might not exist in your new area.
Or, in other situations, there may be stricter regulations than expected. This applies often to first world countries.
You spend much time researching before going into a new market.
And also, you spend much money dealing with overseas law firms. And the process takes longer too…
However, beyond legal paperwork, there are other obstacles. They include…
#2 – Shipment/Freight Tracking.
Expanding overseas means managing international shipments.
You’re either manufacturing then shipping. Or, you mine and refine natural resources, then ship those out.
Regardless, there’s shipping involved. And international shipping is a world of its own.
Business shipments follow “internationally accepted” classification standards.
They’re called incoterms. And those define the “responsibilities” or importers and exporters.
What type of shipment structure will you adopt? How will you negotiate that with importers?
And what about your purchase of supplies? What kind of agreements do you plan on?
Those agreements take time to draw out. But they’re vital, since they define who controls what in each shipment stage.
To give you a better idea…
#3 – Securing Shipments.
When shipping items overseas, there are many risks involved.
There’s risk of damage. What you produce can get mishandled, arriving in shambles.
There’s also paperwork (again). You need documents to get through customs, proving their legality.
It’s tough work. And you must come to an agreement (with importers/exporters) on who handles what.
Depending on what you produce, you sometimes pay insurance on shipments.
If you ship fragile items, sensitive machines, or flammables (like oil and gas products), you pay insurance.
Those are sometimes required by international law. Especially if you ship directly to end consumers.
Someone has to pay for damages. And someone has to receive the money from insurance companies to pay those.
#4 – Tracking Assets.
An overseas business doesn’t just track shipments. They also manage equipment.
This includes all the electronics needed to work. They also include the employees, performance, output, etc.
But electronics aside, there’s data management too. Especially for work plans, dealing with problems, etc.
Maybe your business includes landscape planning.
This is characteristic of overseas mining. There are field layouts, well placements, marshalling equipment, and much more.
Where do you store the data for that?
Is it on paper? Or is it digitalized? Also, is it open source?
If it’s on paper, expect slowdowns and inefficiencies. There’ll be communication problems and delays executing plans.
But with digitalizing your data, you solve those problems.
For an overseas business to function well, it needs full digitalization.
It allows better communication within the business, and with international partners!
#5 – Costs.
By now, you should’ve come to the following conclusion…
Expanding overseas has high upfront costs.
Oddly enough, many businesses assume the opposite. They fall for dreams of “cheap Chinese manufacturing”…
They disregard the actual process of setting everything up.
Going overseas is expensive. It’s not a decision you make on the fly. Nor is it a decision you make while lacking experience.
That is – unless you’re planning your base of operation overseas.
But before expanding, make sure you first succeed locally first. And especially on a managerial level.
Because that’ll be your responsibility after an overseas expansion.
What You Should Do.
Adopt a low stress (and low risk) business model.
Mega-corporations sell needed consumer products.
If you want to expand overseas, think like one. And there are two ways to do so…
Think of how to make your products a needed utility…
For example, are you selling fashion? If so, expand with the intention of producing cheap and affordable clothing.
And in mass.
Or maybe you work in natural resources? That’s a utility too. You need gas/oil for heat and electricity…
Do you have a way of supplying that to power companies at affordable offers?
Do you have the technology to produce cheap and fast?
Do you see opportunities where you can outcompete others in price?
If so, go ahead and expand. Look for markets that are less (or improperly) explored.
That way, you enlarge your business sustainably, and with less stress!