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    How to relocate your business overseas

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    By Diana Scully

    As I write you this post, I am sitting in a Los Angeles cafe enjoying a pretty good cup of coffee (my standards are high given I’m from Melbourne!) and using the free wifi available. This has been my “office” for most of this year, as I spend time in the USA.

    I am an interior decorator and manage my own business, both in person (when I’m in Melbourne) and via an on-line decorating service I offer through my website, Spaces by Diana. This year, my husband and I decided to spend some time in the US to advance and promote his start-up business, Sports Where I Am. Along with all the issues associated with moving overseas, this year has been a big learning curve (huge!) in understanding how to re-establish my business in another country. If this sounds like something you plan to embark on, and assuming that you have already sorted out all the other generic issues associated with relocating overseas (visa requirements, accommodation and healthcare), then let me share with you some helpful tips to get you on the right track!

    What sort of business do you operate?

    I think its safe to say that not every business is easily transferable to another country. Most notably, if you work for yourself and operate an on-line business, this sets a good foundation as it gives you control and flexibility in your work. In addition, these other characteristics may also assist in a smooth(ish) transition:

    + Your industry is established in your new destination.

    + You can still maintain relationships with existing clientele from home.

    + Your business already has a market presence or connections with people/companies in your new country.

    For me, interior design in the US has a great influence on the Australian market. I decided that if I could tap into this market by setting up trade accounts with furniture designers in the US, I was able to offer my Australian clientele, a greater selection of ideas and products to furnish their homes. In effect, I could become the conduit between the two markets and draw and source inspiration from the US to Australia.

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    What’s the purpose of your relocation?

    This is an important consideration as any effort to relocate your business to another country is BIG work. If you understand the purpose of your relocation, this will then assist you with setting the right goals and time frames for your business. You may find yourself having to start over again if you do not already have a presence in your new country.

    For me, our greatest motivation was to set up and grow my husband’s business in the US, rather than expand my interior decorating business. While I personally believed (and still do) that relocating to the US has only been beneficial for me, it has required me to reconsider my services in the market and assess the suitability of my existing and future clientele. This has consequently led me to build great relationships with US furniture designers, as well as expand my on-line services.

    What’s your new market and who are your competitors & clientele?

    Preparation and planning is vital before your departure. I recommend some initial ground work about your industry in your new country. As part of my research, I considered the following issues:

    + Is my industry established in your new country?

    + Are there existing businesses already in my space that offer a similar service? Can I offer something different?

    + How long will it take to grasp my new market? How will it impact my operating business?

    + How will I market myself? How will I network to get my name out there?

    After all this research, I knew it was important for me to develop relationships with furniture designers in the US, expand my on-line decorating services, and network with local designers/creatives by attending workshops in order to establish and grow my business overseas.

    Other considerations...

    Regardless of your industry and business style, you will also need to keep in mind these issues:

    + Are there any legal barriers you need to be aware of in relocating your business? Visa requirements? Do you need to register your business? Tax implications for both your new country and home country?

    + Where will you work from? Home, office, shared workspace, coffee shop?

    + Will any time difference affect your relationships and communications with clients or customers?

    + What items are fundamental to setting up your business in a new country? For example: laptop, internet, bank account etc?

    As a very minimum, it is certainly wise to get in contact with a good Accountant and Lawyer in the initial stages prior to your departure, (you may even need one in your new country too).

    Make friends.

    You are in a city that you don’t know, immersed in a culture you don’t understand, away from all your familiarities, including your local supermarket, doctors, hairdressers and good local coffee shop. You can’t underestimate the importance of connecting with people, forming friendships and networking. This is integral to your survival in a new location and good time should be invested in this aspect of relocating.

    When my husband and I arrived in LA, we didn’t know anyone. A friend of mine connected us with an Australian living in LA, so we arranged to meet him in our first week. Fortunately, he was a superstar and we have become great friends. He has introduced us to his family and circle of friends, both Australian and local. He’s also been a great source to ask questions about working overseas including, recommendations where to work, how to open a bank account, finding a good immigration lawyer, locating the equivalent Officeworks etc… Tap into your social networks and let your community of friends know where you are moving to. Someone should know someone they can recommend you to meet!

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    Here’s the basics to get you started.

    + Do the initial research - if you are still keen, go for it!

    + Find a shared workspace close to home and join a communal table. Here you'll find like-minded people you can chat to about work, as well as the local area. You will also have good access to the internet, phones, printers and other office-related tools. If you are in the US, check out We Work and grab a monthly pass to gain access to their communal work spaces.

    + Alternatively, if you choose to work from home, set yourself up with the basics, including a desk, chair, lamp and storage. If you are in the US, check out Craigslist to pick up some good second hand finds in your local area.

    + Crunch the numbers. To establish your business in a new market may take some time… so if possible, set up a bank account with some savings (three months would be ideal). This will also allow you to attend networking events, seminars in your industry and join a couple of organisations related to what you do.

    + Set up a bank account (and credit card) in your new country so you can access local currency immediately and start earning a good credit history to your name.

    + Join a local gym or social club to meet people in your area, spread the word about who you are and what you do. As I said earlier, connection with people is vital to your success as an individual and also your business.

    While this may all sound a little daunting, I can honestly say, it has been worth every bit. Having the opportunity to relocate overseas with your business is one of life’s greatest opportunities. But keep in mind, it should not be romanticised too much as it can be a challenging transition. From experience, being passionate about what you do, doing the initial research and believing in your business, sets the foundations for success and will keep you on the right track.

    Where possible, be ready to adapt your business. As much as you try to plan your road ahead, inevitably things don’t always go as your envisaged. But hey, that’s ok. You are after all, not in Australia any longer - and that’s the point, right?

    Wishing you safe travels and all the success in work!

    Diana Scully is the founder of Spaces by Diana, a residential interior decorating business that offers personal and on-line services to inspire you to find real solutions to design a home that’s a reflection of you. Read her blog, Spaces + Places, and follow her on Instagram for genuine, cool interior inspiration for your home.

    {All images sourced via Death to the Stock Photo}

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Growing a Business | Comments Off on How to relocate your business overseas

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