Starting a business abroad

A better quality of life, becoming your own boss, getting away from the rat race and the nine to five routine are all reasons why you might decide to move abroad and set up your own business.

Whether you are intending to set up a bar in the Bahamas, an art gallery in Australia or a café in the Costas putting any business into practice can be complex let alone one in a foreign country with different languages, laws and practices.

In order to ensure that your entrepreneurial dream does not turn into a disastrous nightmare you will need to undertake thorough research of your business and how this will translate in your chosen destination.

Below are some of the points you should consider before you start a business abroad:

Is there a market?

It is critical to make sure that there is a market for your business in the area in which you are looking to set it up. Your target market in the UK might not be the same in your chosen country. You need to ask yourself what businesses/services are in demand and try to identify any gaps in the market.

Is the area suitable?

Find our whether there are there any similar businesses in the area already and, if so, is it worthwhile trying to compete in a saturated market? You will also need to ensure that your location is suitable, if your business relies on tourist trade then clearly you will need to set up in a tourist area.

Can you work there?

You will need to check that you can actually work in your chosen country. Obtaining a visa can be difficult and knowledge of immigration laws and processes is essential.

If you are an EU citizen, you can trade and reside anywhere in the EU without a visa but countries such as Australia, the USA and Canada require you to have an appropriate working visa and have a limit on the number of immigrants issued with this type of visa each year.

Your should fully research the visa options available to you, for example, if you plan to move to the United States you might be eligible for a Business Skills visa.

There are usually different visa requirements depending on whether you wish to reside, work or set up a business in your country of choice. Getting this wrong could stop the business before it has even started.

Will you have enough money?

With new businesses generally not turning a profit for at least a couple of years, you will need to make sure you have enough money not only to set up your business but to live on whilst things get going. The set up costs can often be more than first thought and it is essential that you have undertaken the relevant research to ensure that you will have the funds required.

What are the local working hours?

You must abide by local laws and customs in relation to working hours in your chosen country and these may be different to those in the UK.

Do you know how the local laws and tax will apply?

You should engage local legal and tax advisors to help you as UK advisors are not always familiar with foreign systems. You may need advice in relation to whether you are working under an appropriate business structure and to understand how your contracts or trading terms apply.

Getting advice from UK advisors is also important to ensure that any UK tax and legal requirements are complied with.

Do you intend to have employees?

Will you employ locals or workers from the UK? If you employ UK workers they will need to research and consider their own immigration and tax position. You will also have to abide by local laws when deciding on salaries. Ensure you know the minimum wage requirements and the usual wages payable for the work required.

One of the best ways to ensure your business gets off on the right foot is to get in touch with a legal advisor in the local area right from the start who can help you understand what is required.

Contact Worldwide Lawyers to be connected to a reliable, independent lawyer to help you with your overseas business.