It’s now easier than ever to run your business while living or travelling abroad. On top of email, free video conferencing and smart tech have made instant international communication achievable for businesses of all sizes. Of course, being overseas still creates a number of challenges that must be overcome. With a little bit of planning you can enjoy all the benefits of managing your business from abroad and have measures in place to counter any drawbacks.
Make sure your accountant understands international tax laws
Managing your tax affairs in your own country can be complicated enough. When it comes to running your business from a different country, things become even trickier. Do you have workers in several countries to pay? Where will your profits be kept? What taxes do you need to pay, and where?
If your accountant doesn’t know these things, you could find yourself getting into hot water later down the line. You need to make sure you’re paying all the necessary dues. Essentially, don’t assume you’re exempt from certain taxes just because you’ve paid something similar in your country of residence. There may even be tax breaks you don’t know about that could make a sizeable impact upon your cash flow.
Utilise the cloud
The internet is basically one giant computer which anyone can access from anywhere around the world. It was used as a hard drive initially; storing information in the form of websites that anyone could view. But the internet’s processing power is now being harnessed to allow you to run advanced software and apps that can seriously empower your business.
Your business should be taking advantage of simple Cloud storage, that allows all your employees to access the same documents from anywhere in the world, and (if appropriate) advanced collaboration apps which make working together, planning and tracking projects from different locations a breeze. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run; the chances are there are Cloud apps available that will make your life much easier.
Understand the local business culture
Everyone does things differently and attitudes in the business world can vary considerably. You need to understand what the protocol is in each of the countries in which you do business. For instance, in Indian and Japanese culture it is considered rude to say ‘No’, so when negotiating with businesses and individuals from these countries you could create a bad impression if you do not find softer, less direct ways to decline their requests. In Brazil, it is expected that you will discuss non-business related topics before turning to your actual agenda, but in Canada the norm is to get straight down to discussions. Knowing these cultural minutia can make a big difference – the last thing you want is to jeopardise a business meeting or potential partnership thanks to a simple faux-pas.
Take advantage of FX solutions and save money on currency transfers
If you’re managing your business from abroad or have overseas commitments, there may be many times when you’re required to transfer funds to a different currency. Doing this without fully exploring the options available to you could see you lose money on your transfers, eating into your long-term profitability.
Choosing a currency broker to manage your requirements rather than a bank, for instance, could result in savings of thousands of pounds on larger transfers. As well as offering you more competitive exchange rates and fee-free services, brokers can provide risk-management services that banks often don’t, such as ‘stop loss orders’. With a stop loss order your business can set a minimum acceptable exchange rate for its transfers, so you can avoid making a loss should the markets move against you. Similarly, ‘forward contracts’ are useful for making large scale purchases and budgeting as they allow you to fix an exchange rate for up to two years in advance of a transfer. Considerations like this can help you get the best return from your funds.
No matter how much your business means to you or how many hours you work, you just can’t be around all the time. Depending on where you are in the world, your business could be operating while you are asleep or otherwise engaged. But while you’re occupied, prospective and existing clients might need to speak to someone straight away and delays can cost you a lot of money in lost business. Therefore it’s important that you have a trusted second in command who can manage staff, liaise with suppliers and partners and deal with customer enquiries in other time zones. Delegation is the key to managing your company successfully; if everything requires your approval, there will be times where your business grinds to a halt.
Finally, fix problems before they happen
You can’t account for every eventuality, but some of the issues that arise when you manage your business from abroad can be anticipated and easily negated. By looking ahead and establishing the right processes and protocols, you can enjoy the benefits of long-distance business without the drawbacks.