We’ve recently taken the opportunity to provide our services internationally. Obviously there’s a lot to consider when selling services overseas for the first time, and it’s quite hard knowing where to start.
Three websites stand out as useful starting points:
- The Business Link website, www.businesslink.gov.uk, has a section dedicated to international trade as well as useful information on posting workers to foreign countries.
- The UK Trade & Investment website, www.ukti.gov.uk, has useful country guides available to download, and details of regional office who can offer advice about all aspects of trading overseas. (They also run a service called the UK Advisory Network, which was set up to make access to private sector expertise easier to access, www.ukadvisorynetwork.com.)
- The HRMC website, www.hmrc.gov.uk, was invaluable in providing information about customs and VAT and I received very quick and clear written advice on our specific situation by emailing via the site.
Based on the principles that in going global we need to ensure we operate legally, look after our employees, and manage our financial risks, and following research starting at these websites, I was able to develop a checklist of issues to address:
- what are the reporting requirements for customs and VAT for the specific work we’re doing?
- what are the rules regarding posting employees to specific countries?
- do we need additional business insurance?
- what is the best way to pay invoices received in foreign currencies?
- what is the best way to receive payment in foreign currencies?
- what are the risks around receiving/making payments in foreign currencies?
- what is the best way to provide money for our employees while abroad?
- what is the best way to keep in touch with our employees?
- do we need to take anything with us that might need an export licence?
As a result, we now have a foreign currency broker, a Euro bank account, business travel insurance and we are actively looking for the best way to manage accounts in multiple currencies.
We have already spent a couple of days delivering training in Switzerland and are looking forward to trips to Spain and Italy.