There are a wide range of factors to consider when starting your own business. You need to turn a bright idea into a saleable commodity, or a viable service. You need to raise the capital and financing that you’re going to need in order to get your start-up off the ground. You need to think hard about how and in what fashion you’re going to structure your business, and how you’re going to sell it to the rest of the world.
All of these matters need to be given careful consideration, but another aspect that you might easily overlook is location. This doesn’t just mean the choice between renting an office or working out of your bedroom, or getting a prime shopfront in the downtown district. It means considering whether it might be better for your business to be based in a different country altogether.
There are many reasons why entrepreneurs might want to consider starting a business in an international location. First and foremost is cost. Many of your basic business overheads are going to be a lot cheaper if you’re based outside of the US. Hiring premises and staff, buying equipment, advertising and logistics may all be considerably cheaper in other territories.
If your business is primarily going to be run online, as so many start-ups are, then you don’t have to worry so much about overheads. However, the great thing about running an online business is that you can be based anywhere in the world and still compete. Why not move somewhere that has cheap rent or property prices, low living costs or low taxes? There are several countries which are known as tax havens, where investors can set up offshore companies. Some of these jurisdictions are: Seychelles, Belize – where you can start an IBC company, Cyprus. You can then put more of the money that you earn back into growing and developing your business, and there will be less pressure to be making big money from day one.
Living the dream
It’s genuinely possible to live the dream of being a location-independent nomad capitalist with an office that consists of a laptop and a smartphone, working short hours on tropical beaches or while killing time waiting for a flight to your next destination. International money transfers have never been easier, so whether you need to make a payment or get money sent abroad from home, it can all be done with a few clicks of the mouse or taps on the screen.
Get out of your comfort zone
There’s also something to be said for how living abroad can help to develop your entrepreneurial skills. After all, moving to a different country requires you to be adaptable and to be able to come up with creative solutions to problems while thinking on your feet. You need to be prepared to take risks and follow through on your decisions. Just as writers and artists have often lived and worked abroad in order to gain inspiration, so entrepreneurs can develop new ways of thinking and looking as a result of exposure to different cultures and mind-sets, which can lead to new and productive business ideas.
Anyone thinking of taking this route needs to plan ahead carefully, however. Visit the country that you’re intending to live in several times before committing, and if you’re actually going to be selling to customers there, thoroughly research your potential customer base – and the local competition.
If you’re undecided about where you want to go, look for a country with a skills shortage or a gap in the market that matches what you have to offer. If you’re going to be working with clients or taking on employees abroad, find out about the working culture, usual hours and public holidays. Cultural sensitivity is paramount here, as is an understanding of government and business regulations. Network and make contacts that can help you to fit in and bridge any communication gap that exists between you and your new country-folk.
It’s also important to look closely at what your tax situation will be as a US citizen working abroad, both in terms of the laws in the country that you’re thinking of working from and your tax status at home. Before you do anything, you’ll need to acquire an appropriate visa and/or work permit. There may be several different ways to approach this in terms of considering whether to solely be based in your new location or whether to export back to the US or elsewhere. Again, do your research.
With perseverance and courage, however, you may soon find that setting up your business in an international location was the best thing that you ever did. Widen your horizons and take a step into the world: you could join the hundreds of international entrepreneurs currently enjoying business success all around the world.