expat network

Starting A Business When Moving Abroad

starting a business while moving abroad


Starting a new business is already challenging enough as it is, but when you are planning starting a business when moving abroad, well, that’s an entirely different thing altogether. There are a lot of things that you must consider. From that nation’s culture to the contrast of their laws.




Tip 1: Do Your Research

The first thing that you need to come up with is a list of viable startup business ideas. While there are a lot of endeavors that will profit wherever they may be located (food, for instance, will generate revenue anywhere because it is universally considered as a basic need), there are certain factors that might affect their viability in a particular location (for example, selling beef in the U.S. will not get the same reception in India).

Hence, here are some tips on how you can come up with a more informed business idea:

  • Immerse yourself in the culture. Socialize with the locals. Spend a lot of time with them. In fact, it is ideal for you to live with them if you can, even if only a few months, or just enough to get to know the collective personality of that locale or country.
  • Get to know the environment. How many seasons does the location have? Is it prone to landslides or flooding? How about its resources? What kinds of animals and plants are endemic in that country?
  • Never stop researching. Learn about the people’s particular needs and wants. Look into their spending habits and their country’s economy. Analyze what those mean for you.

Startup Business Ideas

As mentioned, basic needs are universally accepted. Hence, here are three examples of what you can consider as potential startup business ideas:

  • Your Cuisine. As long as the ingredients are culturally accepted, and more so if they are available in the country that you’re going to, bringing your own cuisine is always a good place to start if you’re planning to set up your own food establishment. It’s something new to the location that might encourage people to try it out. There’s less competition. And most importantly, it is something that you’re familiar with.
  • Similarly, you may choose to export non-food items that you’re familiar with; such as those that your origin country is known for. We also suggest researching if there are products that cost expensively in that country yet may be sourced cheaply from your origin country.
  • Real Estate. Finally, you can also invest in various properties for lease or reselling. Vacation homes and resorts are always in demand, especially in tropical countries that have a more stable climate.


Tip 2: Learn the Language

Although not a requirement, we highly suggest for you to learn the language of the country you are interested in doing business in.

Learning at least the basic greetings will show people that you care about their culture. It also makes them more open to welcome you.

Having a basic grasp of the language will help you understand (and translate) contracts, certificates, receipts, technically almost all of the paperwork required to establish your business there that is written in their language instead of English.

Finally, having mastery over the language will equip you to distinguish crucial social cues that can prevent you from getting scammed and causing insensitive remarks that might get you (and your business) into trouble. It would also take you on a deeper journey of their culture that will always benefit your business.


Tip 3: Hire Tax and Legal Experts

It is important to acknowledge, though, that even with an excellent grasp of the local tongue, you still can’t expect to fully understand the technicalities of this foreign country’s taxes and laws.

That’s why we always recommend for you to seek help from professionals. This will allow you to avoid complexities and save you from a great deal of headache and inconvenience.

To add a step further to this tip, we suggest choosing tax and legal experts that you can get in touch with conveniently.  For instance, if you spend most of your time in your origin country, then you might want to hire professionals from there. On the other hand, if you’re planning to spend more time locally, then it would be wise to work with trusted local experts instead.

Check Immigration Laws and Related Policies

In relation, you can give yourself a head start in understanding the legal side of your business ownership by checking out immigration laws. There are countries that would not grant local business ownership without a permit, even if you have a visa.

Tax rates could also vary if you’re living there as an expat or if you’re simply doing business remotely.


Tip 4: Expand Your Network

Don’t just stop at tax and legal experts. Foster a healthy relationship with the local business community as well. Befriend suppliers. Encourage friendly competition with local business owners. Collaborate with them and join their community.

This will secure your business further and even lend it legitimacy. While you don’t really need to do this step for your business to thrive, but it can certainly give you an added benefit.


Tip 5: Surround Yourself with People You Trust

Finally, doing your business overseas means that you will be conducting your personal affairs from two separate locations: your origin country and destination country. This also means that there will be occasions when you simply cannot be around for them.

In this regard, it will be crucial to find people that you can trust to work in your interest and represent you to the best of their knowledge and ability. Having a power-of-attorney done in order to give them more power and legitimacy will also help them take on more responsibilities on your behalf.



It is hard to fully understand what you are signing up for in establishing a business abroad until you are already experiencing it. Nothing can ever prepare you for it and every business owner’s experience is unique. However, there are certain tips that you can keep in mind to make the process more manageable and less overwhelming. Good luck!