Thinking About International Expansion? You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Most companies figured out how to be productive with a remote workforce during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to, or they risked their very survival. Even now, when more employees can likely go back to the office, many of them continue to work from afar.

You might say the proverbial genie is out of the bottle. Now that companies know their employees can be productive no matter where they are, the world has opened up. The potential for expanding via a global workforce is no longer just a pipe dream, but a very real possibility.

Granted, if you’re considering making that leap, you know it’s not as easy as it looks. There are multiple issues with having staff in other countries that vastly complicate day-to-day management.

The good news is that long before the pandemic, companies were taking the global leap, and few did it alone. If you’re queuing up to join them, you should consider a few tips that will bridge the divide.

Partner With a Company That Knows Global HR

Compliance with the laws of other countries regarding employment is a major concern with international hiring. Companies that fail in this regard pay heavy prices, including the risk of being branded a firma non grata. Ignorance is simply no defense.

To make global hiring financially feasible while ensuring you comply with the laws, work with an experienced partner. If you’re looking to set up a full-scale presence in another country, that partner could be a professional employer organization. What is a PEO? Simply put, it’s a company that can handle your human resources functions like payroll, taxes, and benefits. It knows the host country’s rules and regulations.

The workers you hire are co-employed by you and the PEO, which means that if they’re full-time, you’ll need a business entity in the country of hire. The PEO just handles admin duties and makes sure you don’t run afoul of local employment laws. That’s vital, as regulations regarding compensation, retirement, health insurance, hours, and taxes can vary widely from what you’re used to.

PEOs Aren’t the Only — and May Not Be the Best — Option

Although working with a PEO is a possibility, working with an employer of record may be a better strategy. An EOR handles everything a PEO does but also offers critical features a PEO does not.

Unlike a PEO, an EOR is the employer of your international workers, not you. One key advantage is the fact that your company is protected from legal liability because you aren’t the employer. If limiting that risk of exposure isn’t enough, there are other great reasons to pick an EOR over a PEO.

Most countries require foreign-based companies hiring employees in their country to establish a local business presence. PEOs can only be used where companies already have a subsidiary, branch, or other local entity in place. EORs, on the other hand, provide that legal entity for you. As long as your chosen EOR is established in your target country, you can be up and running with less time and money.

Just because the EOR is the employer rather than your company doesn’t mean you give up control. You decide who those employees or independent contractors are. Your EOR partner just ensures the rules are followed as you expand internationally.

Let Technology Be Your Guide

Technology made it possible for your employees across town to work from home. Technology is also key to allowing employees to work from anywhere in the world. Plus, it’s necessary for accounting, sales and marketing, shipping, and every other function necessary for business success.

Are you expanding globally to deepen the employee talent pool, break into new lucrative markets, or both? Whatever the reason, you will need to invest in technology. And the right tech will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

A major issue will be whether your existing remote communication, networking, and project management systems will work abroad.  No matter where your employees are located, everyone is going to need to access the same network. Make sure your international hires have sufficient tech infrastructure to work with.

You also need to use technology to streamline banking across borders, currencies, and time zones. There are many international banking solutions for small to medium-sized businesses that make transactions in both directions easy. Plus, you don’t have to set up a bank account in every country you’re in.

Make Everything Secure

One of the greatest features of technology is how easily it facilitates the flow of information. That feature also makes it a prime target for nefarious purposes. While you’re letting tech help your company expand globally, make sure you’re taking steps to secure corporate and customer data.

If you haven’t already, you’re going to need to move your computing to the cloud to accommodate global employees. Doing so requires that your company develop and implement a cybersecurity strategy. For that, you should team up with a reputable cybersecurity company with a proven international track record.

Part of your strategy should involve establishing robust protocols for who gets access to what, when, and where. Particularly when working across international borders, strong mobile device security and well-defined network access and authentication policies are essential.

To expand internationally, your company will need to expose itself to both the benefits and the potential dangers of technology. You may not have the expertise in-house to secure what you’re putting out there on your own. But you can partner with vendors who do.

Don’t Go It Alone

Business owners who launched their enterprises with fierce individuality often have a tendency to cling to that independence. But what works in familiar territory could be a disaster in the context of an international expansion.

The next level for your company may be found in another country. Fortunately, if you’re ready to go global, there is no need to make the trip alone. The right degree of tactical collaboration could help you reach your destination safely and smoothly. 

 

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