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What It Really Takes To Open An Office In Another Country

Expanding operations into profitable overseas markets is a logical step in a growth strategy. Opening an office in a new country takes time, efforts and funding, but with a sharp roadmap, expert guidance and some local know-how, scaling your business can be seamless.

Selecting a geographic location with a market ripe for expansion is the natural first step. A certain country or city may seem like the obvious choice, however, it’s important to take into account cultural differences, as well as the country’s regulatory climate and political stability before investing.

Cultural Differences 

Cultural differences will impact how business is conducted, and also how a product or service is accepted by your target market. Extensive research should be carried out to obtain a thorough understanding of the location’s nuances.

While religious beliefs, behaviours, languages, and practices unique to the country are to be taken into account, so too are the business practices that will affect set-up and subsequent day-to-day operations.

Observing a stricter separation between work and personal life, and even between genders, might require your personnel to change tack when negotiating and socialising with stakeholders and clients. Communication preferences, ideas of professionalism, punctuality and conduct in appointments can vary dramatically. To succeed, you will need to adapt and embrace the norms.

Working in Different Time Zones

Working in different time zones from your colleagues is an obstacle that requires a little attention and can be easily managed, thanks to the various apps and websites that provide instant and accurate comparisons between specific time zones.

Though Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have become popular, research shows that meeting up in person is key to building strong relationships, and establishing a physical presence in a new location will facilitate this.

Assess the Regulatory Climate 

Every country has a specific regulatory climate that organisations need to assess before opening an office there. For example, there are immigration rules, financial regulations, taxation and employment laws. Seeking out expert guidance from a firm or consultant that knows the lay of the land will be invaluable.

Organisations should be aware of every facet of the regulatory climate in a country before opening an office there, and if the business depends on import and export, the country’s exchange laws should be considered. 

Understanding Political Stability 

While representing potentially untapped markets, emerging markets are often earmarked as volatile. An organisation looking to invest in a country that might appear to be lucrative, but is politically unstable, should be aware of the risks it represents. It’s a good idea to limit the financial exposure until the organisation is confident in its understanding of the political climate. 

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