Entrepreneur Blog – An American Setting Up a Business in Europe
Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>As an American who owns a business overseas, I am always asked how I did it. As with any business venture, setting up a company – whether at home domestically or abroad in a foreign country – is a process. It can seem overwhelming. I always knew I wanted to live in Europe, and I think a lot of people have the dream of living an international life, but where do you start? I’ve heard so many women say they want to move to Paris and open a business, but with legal details, visas, and currency exchange rates, it can be tricky to navigate the international waters.
One thing I’ve been able to do since I first moved to Europe is find the right people. In fact, the concept of my business is actually based upon the fact that I have best little black book of antiques addresses in the whole of Europe. My best piece of advice for anyone wanting to start a global business is to hire experts to help! Recognize what you know and what you don’t know. I had plenty of creative ideas, but I had no clue how to create a legitimate company in a foreign country. For legal matters, find an attorney who operates in the country you want to do business in to help you register the business. Have that attorney help with your insurances and confirm that you have all the appropriate licenses, etc. Find a good accountant in the country you want to move to and set up business in as well. They’ll walk you through the process and explain VAT (value added tax) as well as how to hire employees. You don’t just need an accountant in the country you’re moving to…. you also need an accountant in the country you’re moving from – the two of them will work together to make sure they’ve got your back when it comes to global taxes. Taxes are handled differently in various parts of the world and knowing what you’re getting into from the beginning is extremely important. When starting a business, start on the right foot by hiring the right people who can support you.
Getting involved in the local community has also been a key component for my success. A lot of cities have international organizations like the IWC (International Womens Clubs), AWC (American Women Clubs) and Internations (an organization for both men & women). Even if your goal is to make friends with locals while living abroad, joining these organizations when first moving to a country is key. Here you can network to find the right people to help with your business. Websites such as Expatica are also great resources. In making both business contacts as well as in making personal relationships, I want to connect with other like-minded people to bounce ideas off of and stay connected. These groups are an ideal place to do just that. See if the city you’re starting a business in has a Crave Guide which lists the top 100 Women Entrepreneurs locally – it’s a brilliant place to start networking! They hold quarterly meetings to get together and if you can attend these types of events, you’ll be placing yourself in front of the right people. I’ve also sought out the WIN (Women in International Networking) organizations. Finding and meeting these people means you have people to whom you can ask questions. When you have stumbling blocks, this network of people has already been in your shoes and can help navigate though the sometimes murky waters of starting a global company.
The reality is that most of my learning has been step by step. However gathering as much information as you can and then surrounding yourself with the right people to help guide you are two very important elements of succeeding when it comes to operating a business in a foreign country.
Don’t let fear hold you back! Just do it!
The Antiques Diva®