Archive for December, 2009

Setting Up A Bilingual Business Website

Posted on 30. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
3 comments

Do you speak another language? Do you want to do business with both your native country and your adopted country? Then you’re going to need a bilingual, if not multilingual, website.

That’s a great asset, obviously – it means that you can reach a wider target market than your monolingual competitors. However, it’s not just a matter of translating your content word for word, and voilĂ , a bilingual website!

Lost in translation: high fructose corn syrup

Finding the right tone (more…)

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Starting A Business Abroad: The Ugly Truth About Your Logo

Posted on 28. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
1 comment

OK, this is going to be controversial (there’s never a dull moment on this blog, is there?), but I have to say it: your logo really isn’t all that important.

No, seriously – when was the last time you hired a translator or an accountant because of their logo? Exactly. So if it’s not going to bring in more sales, don’t spend tonnes of money and time on it.

When a logo does matter

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Starting A Business Abroad: Design Considerations

Posted on 25. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
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As soon as you have your company name, you will want to get business cards and start building your website.

Whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a designer, take the time to get very clear on the image you want to project through your design.

Good design feels good!

6 design questions to ask yourself

1. What do you want to be known for? Do you want to be the colourful copywriter, the accountant with a sense of humour, or the no-nonsense feng shui expert? What should the look and feel of your design say about you?

2. How do you want people to feel? When they see your card or see your website, should they feel… energised? Confident? Comforted? Appeased?

3. Think of the results you promise to your clients; how can you translate these benefits into a design?

4. What design elements best match the feel you want? Think text fonts, colours, shapes (organic, abstract, angular, soft…), and layout (rich and stimulating, or minimalist and serene?)

5. Put together an inspiration board, or bookmark other websites that catch your eye. What do you like about them? Use as your personal design guidelines, or forward to your designer to illustrate what you want.

6. Is your design in step with local sensibilities? Have you checked what meanings your chosen colours and images have in your host country?

Inspiration board

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Emmanuelle

Images by Mike Rohde (top) and Lana Stewart (bottom), both via Flickr Creative Commons

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Starting A Business Abroad: 5 Tips To Choose A Good Company Name

Posted on 23. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
5 comments

5 tips to choose a good company name

1. Make sure your company name is easy to pronounce and spell in the local language. Make doubly sure that it has no unintended or embarrassing meaning. If you’re planning to sell internationally, ask expats from different backgrounds if the name you’ve chosen has any unfortunate connotations in their mother tongues.

2. You want a name that’s short, and easy to remember. Metaphors and analogies can be effective, but avoid “clever” puns and weird spellings – they can be confusing, and they will make it harder for your clients to find you online.

3. Remember that you’re going to need a website, and that your domain name should ideally be Yourcompanyname.com. Do a search on a domain name registrar as you come up with possible names, and eliminate those that are already taken.

4. If you’re not familiar with the basic principles of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), take some time to learn about it before you pick a name. Having a well-optimised name will make it easier to rank well on Google and other search engines.

5. Your name must be distinctive. If it’s too close to other company names on the market, you will not only confuse clients, but also indirectly remind them of your better-known competitor with a similar name. Don’t give your competition free advertising.

Face in a crowd

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Emmanuelle

Images by Ben Terrett (top) and vividBreeze (bottom), both via Flickr Creative Commons

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Starting A Business Abroad: What’s In A Name?

Posted on 21. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
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Among the many, many things over which you can lose sleep as a new business owner, your company name looms large.

Needless to say, you want to find the best possible name, but you cannot spend months mulling over it either: you have a company to register, a web site to create, and business cards to get printed. So you need to make a decision, and the sooner the better.

Logo sketches

What’s a non marketing expert to do?

(more…)

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Starting A Business Abroad: How To Choose The Right Structure

Posted on 18. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
2 comments

First step to turning your business dream into reality: setting up your company.
Which essentially means choosing the right legal structure for your business.
The specifics vary widely from country to country, so here is a list that will allow you to find out what you need to know, no matter where in the world you live.

Paperwork - signing on the dotted line

Where to get information

(more…)

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Starting A Business Abroad: Why You’re Going To Succeed

Posted on 16. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
1 comment

Overwhelmed by how much you have to learn about doing business abroad? If you are wondering how expats can ever hope to become successful business owners in their host country, don’t despair – I have good news.

As you know, expats share common traits that happen to be highly desirable for entrepreneurs: resourcefulness, adaptability, creativity to name but a few.

In spite of this, many expats I talk to can’t help but feel like the underdog: there is so much they don’t know! If this sounds like you, here are two things I want you to know:

  • Life abroad has taught you more valuable skills than you think – so give yourself more credit
  • Sometimes, not knowing is the best possible thing that can happen

Not convinced? Read on and see why you’re actually better positioned to succeed than your average local business owner.

Ribbons, rosettes and cup

Top 3 strengths all expat entrepreneurs possess

1. A unique perspective

As a newcomer to your host country, you bring a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective.

You’re more likely to notice consumer needs that are not being met by local businesses, and to spot opportunities for products or services that were available back home.

Conversely, you have a significant advantage over your local competitors should you decide to export local products or a brand-new technology to your home country – your networks and your firsthand knowledge of the culture will definitely come in handy.

2. Beginner’s mind

You may think that not knowing your host country and its culture too well is a big handicap. In fact, acknowledging that you don’t know everything can actually be an advantage.

Too many business owners believe they can skip market research, because they assume they already know what their customers want. You, however, cannot afford that luxury – you very well know that local clients don’t always think the way you do.

So you’re going to conduct proper market research, and find out all about your clients’ needs, while your competitors simply won’t bother to do so. Who do you think will come up with the better-targeted, more successful product or service?

3. Calculated risks

Even if you don’t think of yourself that way, you are a risk-taker. All expats are. Just think of how many people have told you, “You’re so brave to go abroad! I just couldn’t do it.”

Having said that, you also know to take calculated risks. You didn’t just pull up stakes one day to move to the first country that struck your fancy – you checked how safe and stable the country was, how likely you were to get a job there, etc. You came up with a plan B in case things didn’t work out, either going back home or moving on to a more promising location.

Being in business is no different. If you try to avoid risk at all costs, you will miss out on opportunities. But take too many uncalculated risks, or leap into the unknown without a contingency plan, and you may well end up bankrupt.

See? Far from being the underdog, you already have several decisive advantages that will greatly help you succeed abroad. You rock!

You rock!

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Emmanuelle

Images by kevinthoule (top) and kaymoshusband (bottom), both via Flickr Creative Commons

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Starting A Business Abroad: 3 Major Challenges You’ll Have To Overcome

Posted on 14. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
3 comments

As a brand-new expat business owner, you’re potentially facing three major challenges:

  • You have never had your own business before,
  • You lack experience and you’re still learning your trade as you go,
  • You’re a foreigner, trying to do business in an unfamiliar environment.

If this sounds daunting, that’s because it is. Any of these circumstances is enough to keep people up at night, so combine all three and you have a pretty overwhelming situation on your hands.

Overwhelmed by post-its

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Starting A Business Abroad: What Role Does Passion Play In Your Project?

Posted on 11. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
2 comments

You’ve heard it countless times from well-meaning friends and experts: Don’t make your passion your job. Passion alone will get you nowhere. Passion won’t pay the bills.

In his Free Pursuits blog, Corbett Barr offers a good overview of both sides of the passion-in-business debate. In my opinion, passion is hugely important for a small business.

I love work - graffiti

Why passion is so crucial (more…)

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Starting A Business Abroad: Is Your Dream Viable?

Posted on 09. Dec, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs, Expat Life
3 comments

Since you’ve decided to start your own business, I bet you’ve spent entire nights wondering, “Is it going to work?” Today I’d like you to ask yourself, “Is it going to work for me?”

It’s not quite the same thing. Small businesses don’t fail because the concept itself was bad – most ideas can work, with a few tweaks here and there, or a different business model. The majority fail because the idea wasn’t a good fit for the owner’s personality, goals or circumstances at the time.

You have a dream for your business (what fancy people call your vision), and for you to succeed, your dream has to be compatible with your current location, your lifestyle and your ambitions.

Ready for a little reality check? Here are some questions you should ponder before you go any further.

Reality check

Your host country (more…)

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