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Business expansion can be thrilling, especially when you set your sights on overseas prospects.
New lands come with fresh opportunities.
Still, as you’re no doubt aware, these hefty business moves will take a high degree of preparation. You can’t always play by the same rules abroad and must be open-minded about how your business operations might differ in other countries. There’s nothing to fear here. So long as you’re willing to adapt and explore new ways of developing your company, there’s still plenty to be invigorated by.
So, what are the important things to remember when expanding your homegrown business into the EU? We’ve provided some suggestions below that may help you.
Traditional banks may not be the best option for overseeing international business transactions. 8 out of 10 SMEs looking to start exporting get rejected by them, as they typically only work with large businesses with big money.
Instead, it would help if you aimed to work with an international financial technology company. They will ensure faster and smoother transactions take place. Moreover, these entities deal with regulators, trade finance organisations, and payment institutions, so firms like yours don’t have to.
Silverbird is a good example of the support available here, as they can help open a UK business bank account for non-resident use and advise on opening a bank account in the EU as a non-resident. They explain alternatives to traditional banking for smaller companies, such as working with payment service providers. These arrangements have fewer monthly maintenance fees and transactions, creating a more sustainable arrangement.
Your EU expansion needs to be kicked off with a bang. By ensuring your firm’s finances are lucid and ready to be utilised, you can decrease the likelihood of stalling any part of the growth. Keep referring to the experts on these matters.
Compliance risks can be born out of international business expansion. Therefore, it’s worth evaluating what’s expected of you in the country your company is expanding to.
For instance, employment laws may differ. Hiring international staff might also mean that your firm’s HR processes must be significantly enhanced to manage everything well. There are HR experts who can provide consultation and input around these queries, ensuring your enterprise is compliant at every turn.
Other entities may be able to help here as well. Lawyers specialising in international law may offer useful guidance, as could local tax accountants in the region you’ve expanded to. Expanding your business into the EU can lead you into uncharted territory metaphorically and literally, so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you require it.
The EU is also the UK’s largest trading partner. It may be evident in your B2B relations abroad if tensions and strain exist for any Brexit-related reasons. New compliance procedures you hadn’t initially anticipated might need to be adhered to. You may need to test the waters for a while just to acclimatise to a new normal.
Regardless of your vote, most would agree that Brexit came with some turbulence. You might be tired of hearing about it, but it’s important to understand that not every aspect of this turmoil has been squared away yet.
While some trade deals are in place with other countries and the EU, most of these arrangements are rollovers, meaning they’re just copied and pasted deals from when the UK was an EU member. Fresh agreements that are a little more ambitious may be needed before long, which means trading conditions for your business may alter at some point in the undetermined future.
Don’t just wait for the news, either, but monitor other forecasts and sector-specific analytics so you can generally assess which way the wind is blowing. Pose queries with your peers and mentor figures who’ve perhaps branched out into the EU recently. The business world is always changing, and there are no exceptions regarding those in the EU.
There’s more than one way to get your business noticed in the EU. How you choose to distribute your products and services will broadly influence that effort.
You have a few options available to you here. They are:
Engaging with EU markets and conventions in person to establish your firm’s presence in the markets of the EU.
Collaborating with agents who work in your chosen market, distributing your goods on your behalf.
Establishing an online marketplace through which your EU customers can purchase their goods and have them delivered.
None of this is rocket science, but some business owners may feel pressure to make a name for themselves overseas at the earliest opportunity. If you’re particularly keen to get the ball rolling, you may even be able to explore all of these options simultaneously for maximum business activity. In the end, though, it all depends on your preferences and your company’s logistical capabilities.
Speaking the language of a foreign market is about more than good communication. It’s also about highlighting your respect, as well as your willingness to adapt.
You might not need to become fluent in the language of your chosen market. However, having enough proficiency to exchange greetings or engage in some light small talk may be enough to show that you’ve made an effort. That said, the more you do learn, the better. No doubt EU business partners will appreciate your commitment.
Attitudes could be better at home. Unfortunately, there tends to be an assumption that everybody speaks English, leading to a foreign language deficit engulfing the UK. Many people worldwide do indeed speak English, but openly operating on the assumption that everybody will highlight a level of ignorance on your part.
Still, if others can take the time to learn English, then it’s only fair that you have some command over the language of your chosen EU market. A balanced approach is needed for all things in business; the same is true regarding language!
Culture can almost be a different type of language. After all, it greatly influences how people interact and what value systems they hold dear.
It’s undoubtedly worth looking into the cultural norms of the EU markets you enter. Some of these nations will be proud of all they offer and host cultural events for the masses where much can be learned about the national history and traditions. Attending these showings is highly recommended, but further research should certainly be conducted if that’s not possible.
Even slight social missteps may alienate a client during an all-important meeting. For example, France only recently passed a law allowing customers of their restaurants to take food home with them in ‘doggy bags’. So, while it might be legal to do so now, you may still earn a frown or two in making the request. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s just one small thing that can influence the tone of important business meetings.
You should remember a few things when expanding your company into the EU. However, most of them revolve around being courteous and doing your due diligence. While you may have to explore alternative ways of financing and otherwise doing business, you may find that you outright build a better firm for all of these changes. Expansion doesn’t need to be an agonising process. If you’ve prepared properly, you could scale up your enterprise without stumbling or setbacks.
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