Your company is thriving, and it’s time to open another office. The question is where? While you don’t have to deal with immigration issues as you would when starting a business in another country, there are still challenges you’ll have to handle to ensure long-term success. Before finding a location, relocating your manager and hiring local staff, you’ll need to do some research. Employment law, tax laws, foreign business regulations and so on vary depending on the country you’re thinking of doing business in. Extensive pre-planning, with the help of tax planners and legal experts experienced in setting up businesses in the EU, will go a long way making the scale-up smooth. CurrencyFair have gathered advice and tips on strategies for growing your business internationally here.images by: Peggy Marco, Caro Sodar, Jens Peter, belindasoundso
Why Do You Need a Foreign Office?Before taking that first step, though, check your motivation. Is opening an office in another country truly necessary to achieving your long-term business goals? Pascal Soboll, managing director at design firm Daylight Design’s Munich office, tells the BBC that opening a branch in the German city was a good move because of the number of designers readily available in the region. But there’s more to it. “You have to have offices to build relationships locally,” he added. “Even with today’s teleconferences and virtual meetings, you just can’t build relationships without meeting face to face.”
Face-to-Face is More Important Than EverThe Centre for the Promotion of Imports, an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, says face-to-face meetings are necessary when developing business relations with European buyers. Emails from overseas suppliers often go straight to the trash, whereas a visit to the company is appreciated and noted. Even in the Internet age — and perhaps because of it — face-to-face communication is crucial, says UK business adviser Alison Edgar. “This is because 97% of communication is non-verbal, so face-to-face interactions are by far the best way to build a relationship and understand behaviours,” she writes in Business West. The University of Salford Manchester Business School concurs. Its Passport to Trade 2.0 project was developed specifically to help European SMEs trade successfully throughout Europe, and the website is part of its free training materials.
Body Language and Cultural CuesPassport to Trade 2.0 features country-specific business communication pages. When doing business in Germany, for example, you’ll read that first impressions are so important to Germans they can impact the entire outcome of a business relationship. To make a good impression, you’ll need to observe certain niceties:
- Shake hands before and after a meeting, reciprocating any nod of the head or slight bow.
- Personal space is valued; don’t crowd.
- Make eye contact often.
- Direct language is appreciated; no hyperbole, not too much chit chat.
- Address people by their full, correct title in speech and writing.
- Have business cards available.