Are you planning on expanding your business overseas? Opening a new branch in unfamiliar territory can be intimidating and a little complicated, but with the help of this guide and some necessary research, you can begin the process with more confidence, peace of mind, and assurance that you can succeed.
You will need to ensure some key factors are in place to maximize your chances of a successful expansion. These factors include choosing the best employee to manage the overseas office, hiring a lawyer to help you set up the expansion and avoid errors in foreign legal processes and bureaucracy, choosing the ideal location for the new branch, and hiring a solid team of locals who can share their knowledge and experience of local customs and customer expectations.
When setting up a foreign branch of your business, generally, you will need a local representative on the ground who can run the branch and oversee activities. This person will need to be a citizen of the chosen country or have residency status in that country. Your local representative will have a lot of financial responsibility and needs to be a trusted, responsible and hard-working employee.
It is recommended that you send one of your current employees to manage the overseas office. You will want to send someone who is excited and happy to move abroad because if they are reluctant, your business venture is much less likely to succeed. Having someone from your current environment make the move is beneficial as they already know your culture and how the business works. This will make the transition smoother. Try to send an employee whose skills align with the purpose of the new office and, most importantly, someone you trust to represent your business honestly and professionally overseas.
Hire A Lawyer
One of the most significant expenses you will have when opening a foreign branch is a good lawyer in the country you are planning to expand into. This lawyer will be familiar with the local statutes and will guide you through creating a legal entity, opening a bank account, procuring visas, paying payroll taxes, getting insurance and any other legal and bureaucratic paperwork that is essential for your business expansion, but that can be confusing, time-consuming, and problematic if errors occur.
When choosing a location for your overseas branch, there are several factors to consider, including the costs of running an office and renting or buying premises and average wages in the country. Moreover, you should consider close-proximity competitors, access to target markets, and local government incentives that could help your small business financially.
If your chosen employee who will make the move has business ties and contacts in a suitable location, this can also be factored into the decision-making process, as having a ready-built network will be a huge advantage.
Portugal Golden Visa
Portugal is ranked number nineteen in the 2022 US News & World Report Open for Business list of the most business-friendly countries. It is worth considering Portugal for your foreign branch location for its visa perks.
If you are making the move overseas yourself, as the business owner, you should consider the practicality and ease of accessing residency, the right to work, and eventual citizenship. The Portugal Golden Visa scheme allows you to remain in Portugal for five years with the same rights as a resident. After this period, you can apply for permanent residency or citizenship. You can also bring your family with you on this visa, and they will also have the right to live, work and study in Portugal and the rest of the EU.
The requirement for this visa is that you invest 280,000 euros in real estate and maintain this investment for five years. Once you have residency or citizenship, you can choose to liquidate your investment. You are only required to stay in Portugal for seven days each year, so there is a lot of flexibility to travel and return to the US office.
As well as having your trusted employee from the US branch on board, it is advisable that you hire local talent. Workers from the country in which your new office is located know the local customs and market and have a unique insight into the wants and needs of the local customers.
You can post job availabilities on hiring websites such as Linkedin or use a local recruiter to help you build your overseas team. If your hiring team is on location, they can also attend local networking events and create relationships with other professionals in the sector.
Do not rush the hiring process. Check your candidates’ professional references to ensure they are actually suitable for the role and have the required experience. A professional reference can give you insight into whether the candidate can handle high-pressure environments, challenges, changes and working with others. You want to build a team of committed professionals that will be in the job long-term and give you the best chances of successful international growth.
This has been a brief guide on some of the critical factors that you should consider when opening a foreign branch of your business. For the best shot at success, your new branch should have a representative from your US office who is keen to move, trusted, and ready to represent your business professionally. This person will have many responsibilities and need to be a hard worker with great instincts and initiative.
You will also want to hire a lawyer to help you set up the legal and bureaucratic side of the overseas business venture, such as payroll and tax matters. A local lawyer who knows the regulations in their country can guide you through the opening of your new branch. This is the best way to avoid stress, mistakes, and confusion.
The location and team members in your new branch are also vital factors to bear in mind. Consider the costs of running a business, proximity to competitors in certain locations, visa requirements, benefits and opportunities. Finally, do not forget that locally hired employees can offer your business a unique perspective of the local market.