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    14 Replies Latest reply on Sep 21, 2009 7:26 AM by wordperfect

    Shifting your base of operations to a different country

    akgold Adventurer
      Now that the world is connected to the internet, it appears that there are many opportunities to run a business from a "virtual" location. I consider the definition of virtual as not being dependent upon location. There are many wonderful countries and it seems that as the world gets more and more connected, there are new possibilities to run a business from a foreign country.

      Does anyone have experience living in a foreign country whether for a few months or a few years and working there running a business back in America? I could think of several countries where I would like to live for a year or two and run projects from a different base.
        • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country
          Techie Wayfarer

          As long as you are not co-located with your workers or your clients (and do not interact with them in person) - being 30 miles apart vs. 300 miles apart vs. 3000 miles apart - doesn't really matter with the conveniences of modern technology!

          However problems may arise with the time zones. It can be an issue for arranging a phone conference or even if you need to be available virtually - online. For example, I am U.S. based and have a client in Asia - so every Sunday night I'm working because it's Monday morning for them! So, when you chose your country, make sure you consider the time zone differences in relation to your customer/business.
          • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country
            buybigtires Wayfarer
            AK, sounds like you've been reading "The Four-Hour Work Week".

            If you haven't, pick it up, as it answers many of your questions.

            For starters, use gotomypc.com, it's a lifesaver.

            Second, using vonage, get an international phone number for each country that you will be doing business with on a regular basis.

            Make sure that the area you are moving to has a broadband internet connection. Then make sure VoIP is available in your country of operation.

            For $5 a month, you can get a phone number in Australia that will redirect to your US cell phone, a line in Bangladesh, or Northampton, England.

            The options are endless, and your customers will appreciate the fact that they only get charged(or not, in most cases) for a local call.

            Get slingbox attached to your cable back in the US, and watch your shows over the internet. You will, and I mean will, miss US TV.

            We do a ton of international business. Make sure you have someone who can accurately translate your business contracts into your native language. Any mistakes could cost you thousands, if not millions.

            Get used to not sleeping much. Our contacts in Germany are up all the time, we sometimes wonder if they ever sleep. A conference call w/ Australia at 3 am is no fun.

            Get out of your US cell contract, and get with one of the major GSM providers overseas. Vodafone, Virgin, somebody with good service where you will be located.

            Hopefully this has answered at least some of your questions.

            Good Luck.
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country
                akgold Adventurer
                Thanks buybigtires. It sounds like you really know what you are doing. Each area of your advice is helpful and your message contains many relevant tips.

                Two quick questions:

                1) What company do you select in Australia to get your number? That looks really promising.

                2) How does that work with the major GSM providers? Are you recommending to select a good company in the country in which I will be located and where the cell phone has international range?

                Thanks!
                  • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country
                    buybigtires Wayfarer
                    AK,

                    The company's name is Vonage...they have a full list of services @ http://www.vonage.com.

                    Yes, I would recommend getting a GSM phone in the country where you will chiefly be operating.

                    GSM is the only technology that is currently utilised overseas, for the most part. This means that it will work on pretty much every network, from Great Britain to China. You can also switch phones easily, via a sim card. If your phone breaks, just put the SIM chip in the new phone you purchase, or in a friends phone. It will automatically receive the calls for your phone #, without any additional setup.

                    Currently, AT&T and one other company (Verizon?) are the only providers of this technology in the US.
                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country
                    AsiaAgro Newbie
                    I run my business from Thailand and would agree with bigbuytires on the various "tools" you can use to make communications (and living overseas) easier. Rather than Vonage I exclusively use Skype for communications - I have phone numbers in the US and UK for local call from clients through SkypeIn, and make phone calls to to clients landline or mobile phones using SkypeOut. For recurring clients and associates(of which most of my business consists) I use skype for phoning, conference, and use the video feature.

                    I have a O2 Xda phone from which I can use also use skype from any hotspot - it has Pocket PC software so I can use MS Office software in addition to making calls through my Thai GPS provider (DTAC). I can also connect to the itnernet via GPRS from just about anywhere in the World (except Japan because of their closed system).

                    Most of my work is in Asia, but vitually all of my clients are in Europe or North America. This does mean late night phone calls and communications but the freedom to live where you like, as you like is (as they say) "priceless".

                    BTW - I don't miss American TV at all - but if you do - most cable and sattelite services overseas show most of the popular US shows (albeit up to a year or more later).

                  • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country   -  MONEY
                    gracie Newbie

                    I am really glad you asked this question. I am just starting operations in EUROPE and am having a lot of difficulty with banking. I want to keep my EUROS in EUROS and haven't been able to find the division of B of A that can help me. The French banks that offer duo currency accounts - think I am too small fry OR a laundring outfit for the mob..

                     


                    Any suggestions?
                      • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country   -  MONEY
                        AsiaAgro Newbie
                        GRACIE - Any detailed suggestions would require more information about your structure... but if you are setting up a European entity for your operations, then a Euro account in Europe is the best route. If you are selling to European customers in Euro from a US company, the size of your business or expected growth may determine cost benefit of setting up an offshore company for these European transactions. This can be expensive if you're just doing "small fry" business. Alternatively banks like Wachovia / Deutsche Bank / BofA / ABN Amro / HSBC offer FX accounts, but as you have likely run into, the minimum balances are fairly high.
                        Again depending on the size of your business and the products or services you provide - there are also alternatives such as setting up a tax efficient Swiss or HK company (and do your banking in Euros). This perfectly legal, but may put undue IRS scrutiny on you if this part of your business is fairly small. Note this is not a way of avoiding US taxes, but a way of maintaining your revenues in Euros, and potentially deferring tax until repatriation to the US (however read about Sub Part F income for more details).
                        Good Luck.
                          • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country   -  MONEY
                            gracie Newbie

                            Merci! It is a small fry consulting firm at the moment and while I have a legal entiy in FRANCE it allows me to reside in the US the banks like HSBC are not interested in my current earnings.

                            What is an FX account? As I mentioned, I tried to explain what I want to B of A hotline: when I say Euros they answer pesos? Please tell me what division I want and what is the name of the kind of account. In France we ask for a foreign currancy account.

                            Thanks for the advice on the Swiss company - its great to keep an eye on the future....um what is HK?

                            best gracie
                              • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country   -  MONEY
                                AsiaAgro Newbie
                                An FX account is a Foreign Exchange account (or Foreign Currency account), it allows you to keep your revenues in whatever currency you set the account up in. Depending on how you set it up you can also do forward or hedging transactions, etc. with these accounts. Since you have a French entity, I would strongly suggest that you have payments made into that company's Euro account - rather than trying to set up a Euro account for a small American company.

                                Dealing with US banks on international issues can be difficult since they are US focused (thus the Peso versus Euro comment) - if you want to deal with BofA on this, I would suggest going to a branch manager and having them track things down for you. I use a branch in NC, and although they are clueless on international business they are extraordinarily helpful if I explain what I need - they work the internal channels rather than me having to go through numerous voicemails, internet options, etc.

                                HK is "Hong Kong" - Hong Kong offers better transparency and tax efficiency for invoicing companies. And if you are not an American citizen, you have a wide variety of options for tax free status. Even for Americans, tax deferrals and holding company operations are far more efficiency and cost effective in HK than with Europe or Caribean based holding companies.

                                If you spend a lot of time in France, I would suggest Natixis bank (formerly BNP). I have just dealt with them through a client and found them very accomodating - as well as middle market focused (better for SMEs).

                                My company's website is http://www.agrcorp.com - the main focus is in structuring companies in Asia, development consulting, and business process systems, but I've also lived and worked in Europe for many years. This may help when you reach the next stage of growth in your consulting business!!

                                Best of luck!

                                 

                                 

                                  • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country   -  MONEY
                                    david28078 Adventurer
                                    I am British and a permanent resident of the US -

                                    I do business in my native England thru the 'net - I use a .co.uk address and it is much less costly for UK businesses to get me to do their SEO and Website Design work than in their own country.

                                    I use servers in Canada, LA and Minnesota have the dom names living in Arizona (Yo Bob Parsons)

                                    My main obstacle is trust - I have spent the best part of a decade getting people to trust me - I turn away work if I don't think I'm going to do well but at least the trust factor is there.

                                    I do "SEO" mainly for Charlotte, NC businesses and some old clients from the SF Bay Area ( I lived there for 10 years)

                                    Trust is the main key to international success + I get a write off to visit clients a few times a year :)

                                    David
                                      • Re: Shifting your base of operations to a different country   -  MONEY
                                        wordperfect Scout

                                        "As long as you are not co-located with your workers or your clients (and do not interact with them in person) - being 30 miles apart vs. 300 miles apart vs. 3000 miles apart - doesn't really matter with the conveniences of modern technology!"

                                         

                                        In principle this is right, but as David said, the issue of trust comes up, if your clients can't see and "touch" you in the flesh it is a lot harder to build that trust. This is especially hard for us as we are based in China which is an automatic 10 steps back in most people eyes.

                                         

                                        Of course if you have the where with all to travel between client base and home base, fine, you will soon clock up some air miles, but for most SME's this isn't an option.

                                         

                                        So and it's just my opinion, yes, technology is great, but be prepared to have to do some hard work and maybe travel in the early stages building up good relations.

                                         

                                        And uhmmm, yeah, a phone call at 3 AM is less than funny!