Fewer Britons are apparently planning a holiday abroad this year due to the poor state of the British economy and the relative weakness of the British pound in relation to currencies such as the euro – but that doesn’t mean that fewer Britons want to relocate abroad.
Recent surveys from the likes of banks and financial institutions all show that us Brits are keener than ever to escape the fiscal and literal gloom in the UK right now, and if you’re amongst the large numbers seriously keen to escape to a new and better life abroad, the number one priority for you will be affording to fund and sustain that escape.
So, have you ever thought about starting your own business abroad? It can be an exciting and prosperous, rewarding yet positively challenging experience. In this article we take a look at what is required from you if you do want to go it alone and get into business abroad.
It’s almost a cliché that Britons move abroad and open a bar – and a cliché is only ever a cliché because it is so true! So yes, many Brits do move to popular holiday hotspots and open a pub because it’s considered an easy business to open, run and profit from. However, the actual realities of opening and running a bar are quite far from this misconceived relative ease.
The bureaucracy surrounding the acquisition of a liquor license and a music or entertainment license is generally long drawn out and complex, the hours are long, permanently drunk clientele are tedious, staff turn over is high and finding reliable staff can be very tricky indeed, the cleaning up after a good night is grim, and all in all, running a bar in a beautiful location can soon tarnish one’s love affair with the business, the location, the nation and even the public!
So, assuming you still want to start a business abroad after we have effectively ruined the one good idea you maybe had (!), here are the considerations you need to keep in mind when thinking about what it is you want to do abroad. The most successful businesses are run by people who are passionate about them. If you or your spouse or partner are particularly good at something, you have a skill, a hobby or a talent that drives or motivates you, can you turn that into a business venture?
For example, if you or your partner are budding artists, could you start a painting school abroad. If you are a great cook what about opening a café or a bakery? If you’re into extreme sports could you go somewhere where there is demand for your passion and skills and start a business appealing to people just like yourself? Think about a niche, then think about a preferred location – is there demand for your business idea, or can you create demand perhaps? You need to spend serious time and put in a lot of effort when it comes to checking out the viability or otherwise of your idea. Visit your preferred location in and out of season, look at who holidays or lives in the region – i.e., look at your target market. Think about their likely interest in your idea, their relative affluence and affordability that will effectively fund your business.
You then need to look more closely at the bureaucracy and guidelines that will impact on you and your idea – go to the town hall, speak to an accountant, get advice from the local chamber of commerce or equivalent if there is one. Go around and speak to other expat business owners and get as informed as possible about what the realities are like of starting and running a business abroad. Could you see yourself coping with all the reporting requirements? If so – good! If not, is there someone you can employ to take over this part of your business? If you know in advance the main challenges you will face, you can properly prepare yourself for coping with them.
Finally you need to think about the financial aspects of doing business abroad. There is every chance that your business idea will take off and you will be very successful and happily live abroad…however, the reality for most people is that they struggle financially speaking before they ever reach this point. They struggle so much that often they are forced to, or decide to, give up and chuck in the towel. So, you need to be ready for the fact that a new business can take a few years before it turns to good and solid profit – and that there are things outside of your control that can affect this. For example, anyone who has started a tourism facing business relying on British trade somewhere in Europe in recent years may well find that fewer British holiday makers this year is an expensive problem.
You need to have the finances in place to survive and pay your essential bills such as your mortgage for as long as possible. You also need to be prepared to take on another job to supplement your income if needs be…in other words, you need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to survive abroad whilst your business grows in strength. As stated therefore, the challenges of starting your own business abroad are huge – but you can prepare for them and cope with them and therefore make a very real success of the challenge.
And as a p.s., – even if you’re moving abroad and hoping to run a business appealing only to Britons, you will have to deal with local suppliers, banks, bureaucrats and services so learn the local language, it will make life so much easier.