Let’s do this step-by-step. It’s a challenging road to success. I ran an online business in Asia focusing on providing a platform for local and foreign businesses to integrate and automate paid advertisements on social media. The platform provided unique written, designed and tested campaigns, which could be tweaked accordingly. It was a very challenging task to meet all the demands of (potential) customers, but it was well worth it.
Before packing your bags, start reading these 6 awesome tips for starting a business overseas:
1. Local Culture
The local culture and habits are extremely important for any entrepreneur who’s looking to start a business in another country. It is essential to know the ins- and outs of the local environment and how to get around. As hard as it might be, try to find a local investor or a business advisor who can inform and explain key factors of doing business in a specific area. Depending on your business and target market, get to know local consumer behavior. It’s key for your potential business to have local partners who are trustworthy; this key point can make or break your business.
Local business events are a great way to meet new people in the area. In case you are looking to build a network before flying out, which is a smart thing to do, use your current network to see if you can connect to someone doing business in that area. Another possibility would be to join expat communities and ask questions there. Join Facebook groups! They are surprisingly effective.
Studying a new language is hard and very time-consuming. It may even present a bigger barrier for you than running an actual business. However, learning the local language will prove to be a huge advantage when doing business with local people. Especially in Asian countries, people will show you more respect and trust when you speak the language. Besides the fact that communication will be easier, it’s easier to meet new people and you’ll most likely get better deals.
3. Way of Life
Integrate with the local community and neighbors through events and other get-togethers. This is a great way to meet new people, potential clients, potential business partners and besides that, a great way to learn more about the country and its culture. It’s an awesome experience to see, understand and feel how the local people live their life. Learn about their values and vision in life. Study the local market and local economy and how that knowledge can profit your business.
It is critical for entrepreneurs, regardless of country or business industry, to fully understand the competition. However, entrepreneurs should not only focus on the current competition model. Have a look at what happened in the past, try to find companies in your industry or somewhat related who have failed to succeed. Examine their conditions and learn from the mistakes those companies made. After all, learning from mistakes is a highly valuable asset. Also, find companies that have succeeded in their market and compare them to the failed companies. Figure out the key differences and implement this in your own business plan.
Networking is one of the most important key aspects of running a successful business. As you make the move to another country, the network you build in your home-country will become less valuable abroad. Therefore building an international network is increasingly important. Meeting the right people at the right time can make a huge difference in your business’ growth. As mentioned earlier, try to connect with expats or already established communities in the local area. Many Asian countries have specific groups that organize events for members for a small monthly fee. Or join Facebook groups that are free and offer a community atmosphere.
When I moved to Asia to build my own startup, I tried to connect to many businesses at a very early stage by emailing or calling them. It was extremely beneficial to meet businesses and other entrepreneurs and resulted in a lot of new connections and trusted contacts. It turned out to be a valuable for both sides, short- and long-term.
6. Health Insurance
An obvious, but often overlooked, factor when moving to a different country is health insurance. Many expats don’t necessarily recognize the importance of good international health insurance coverage. I highly recommend finding a health insurance plan that fits your personal needs and select the most suitable plan for you. For example, if you require routine visits to a therapist or chiropractor, finding a suitable doctor in another country can be difficult. Check with your insurance provider whether they keep a list or communities of the best doctors in your new country. This will take the stress out of searching for a doctor as you’re simultaneously settling in.
Starting my own business abroad was single-handedly one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life, but it was not an easy thing to do by any means. Don’t just randomly choose an industry or country, but take your time, be patient and come prepared. Of course, keep in mind some of my tips, I’m positive it will contribute to your success and give you an experience of a lifetime, something you will never forget!