Business & Finance

What’s Different About Doing Business Abroad?

If you’re mulling over your options for growing your business, then breaking into a new territory abroad is an attractive option. It seems to offer a shortcut to success: finding a place of prominence in your home market took months or years of effort, facing setbacks and turning them around, learning about your market and how to communicate with them and generate sales from them. Repeating the act in a new market should be simple: you already know what works and what doesn’t, so you can just make the right choice first time, over and over.

Unfortunately, life isn’t so simple. Different markets are just that: different. If you don’t understand how the market you’re targeting differs from the circumstances you’ve grown under at home, then you could find yourself in genuine trouble, with not just your expansion threatened but also your original business!

Good international research can help you find the success you’re looking for, and avoid the hidden pitfalls, but to help focus your efforts we’re looking at some of the ways your new target market can be different to what you’re used to.

Rules and Regulations

All forms of business are governed by rules and regulations about what’s fit to sell, whether it’s a product or a service, and it’s well worth checking the legislation that governs your industry in this new market. It’s not just sensitive material like medication that’s affected: if you’re selling something as simple as cheese sandwiches you have to check factors as diverse as what temperature they’re refrigerated at, whether you warn about allergens, which ones you have to mention on your labelling and even what you call your cheese!

Getting one of these details wrong could lead to a heavy fine at best or in the worst case, a serious medical event for one of your customers, which could be enough to stop your attempts at expansion into this territory altogether!

Taxes and Fees

If you’re beginning to break into a new territory there are all sorts of tax implications you’re going to have to be aware of, at home and abroad. You’re going to be moving something of value across borders, be it the products you’re selling, or the money needed to set up and then, eventually, your profits. It’s well worth working with a specialist accountant who can make sure you neither pay more than you need to, nor avoid paying what you’re obliged, and make sure you avoid fines and court appearances!


Perhaps the most significant factor of all, and one where market research can help you most directly: the culture you’re selling into will be different subtly or dramatically from where you’ve originally been working. This means that your marketing strategy, advertising material and even products themselves may not be suitable to use unmodified.

Make sure you fit your message to the market you’re selling to, to ensure you’re effectively communicating why your brand should be the natural choice.

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