TMCnet Feature
December 08, 2021

Figure These Things out Before Starting Your Overseas Expansion

The future of work is uncertain. That means the future of your company is uncertain. That said, it doesn’t have to be if you do a lot of contingency planning right now in preparation for what is to come. They say the future of work is a skills-based economy. That sounds fine on paper. But what does it really mean for your business? You could be in for no changes of consequence. Or you could be in for a radical change that reshapes everything about the way you make money.

One of the changes you need to consider is where you will be doing the bulk of your business in the next five years. Right now, you might be a local concern. But a lot of locations have been devastated by the pandemic and are not ever going to party again like it’s 2019. You will have to expand or even move that business to a new location. It might not be enough to move it to the next state to the left. You might need to think about skipping an ocean to find a profitable home for the kind of business that you do. That is a good choice for a number of reasons. But it is also a decision that requires research and planning. Before you get your passport stamped to parts unknown, get a good handle on the following.

Legal Translation

Even if you know enough of the local language to order lunch, it doesn’t mean you know enough to present your official documents to workers in that language. Your employee handbook might spell out every little detail of the company code. But it will be legally meaningless if not properly translated. Making sure it is done right is just one of the many things you get from legal translation services.

Interpreters will have to be fluent in slang, terminology, and nuance. Language is shockingly difficult because it is only about half vocabulary and grammar. All languages are idiomatic to some degree, some more than others. That means you can have the grammar and vocabulary down cold and still completely garble the message. Even legalese is not completely divorced from the culture. So when translating legal documents, you still have to be attuned to the cultural nuance of the language. This is why document translation for your business is a matter for legal experts who are also fluent in the language at a cultural level.

Regulations and Customs for Workers

Not everything is a matter of regulation. Roll into a different country with only a legal understanding of the landscape and you will find yourself with no one willing to work for you. It could be that you find yourself in a place where the workweek is only four days. There are several countries in that category. Moreover, the US is the only industrialized country to not guarantee paid family leave. Your US notions of hard work might run afoul of both custom and constitution.

Many US employers would say that they would be unable to keep their doors open if they had to support a 4-day workweek. They would also say that they could afford neither to give everyone family leave, nor to pay for those families to be off work. Yet somehow, this is just the daily reality for businesses in other parts of the world. So if you really can’t afford to bend your business model to the demands of local custom, don’t expand to that country.

A Good Understanding of Local Finances

Depending on what city you are from, you might think it is immoral to pay a worker less than $15 an hour. However, while that may seem low to some, it’s important to remember that these are wages paid within the US. If you paid the equivalent of that to everyone who mopped the floor for you in some countries, it would destabilize the economy. That might represent a day’s wage, or even a week. If you want to do business in a different country, you have to understand the finances and economy of that place. You cannot set prices and wages based on your Western sensibilities. You have to calibrate a fair price and wage to the place where you do business.

It is perfectly understandable why you are tempted to seek your fortune overseas. But before you do, secure legal translation services. Learn the customs as well as the laws. And become familiar with the financial and economic realities of the place you will be doing business.

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