Roger, thank you for joining us! Can you explain briefly what WorldwideWP does, and what your roles entail?
Worldwide Workplace is a professional employer of employees of companies with international needs. We provide our service in over 120 countries. Our roles include, employment, payroll, filings, compliance, reporting, recruitment, and benefits. There are many services that fit within these categories. Our solutions provide the answer to turn key international expansion. As our clients say we provide the “method to the madness” of international expansion.
It seems that both new and established businesses are trying to secure an international presence now more than ever before. Where do you see the greatest opportunities in this regard in the next five years?
The marketplace has been identified as the world over the past few decades. All markets around the world are searching for the best goods and services. If these do not exist in their country now they go out of country to get them, they would rather have them in-country. The opportunities are there, do your research and fit your company into the best spot for additional markets.
What are some of the main sticking points businesses face when trying to establish a legal entity in a new country? How are businesses best advised to overcome these difficulties in the short-term?
Establishing an entity in another country is both time consuming and expensive, especially when you consider that the main movers and shakers of the existing business has to do this. Once this entity is established, now you have to adhere to reporting standards and compliance that you and your people are not experts. In the short term and maybe long term it may be best to bill for you product from the home country, while marketing it in the foreign country. This can be accomplished with the help of a professional employer firm.
In your experience, what are some of the most commonly overlooked issues in establishing a workforce in another country?
There are many, I will highlight just a few.
- Lack of knowledge and interpretation of employment law.
- Not having a true understanding of the cultural expectations and beliefs.
- Highly different pay structures, some countries have a 13th and 14th month salary component.
- Proper interpretation of work day, week, month, and year in-country.
- Hiring a recruitment firm without knowledge of who they are representing.
What qualities do business owners and executives need to look out for when outsourcing their recruitment to an employment organization?
- Local and national expertise.
- Commitment to the client as well as the employee.
- Expertise in your market sector.
- Size of data base for potential employees in your sector.
- YOU have to have cultural understanding, especially of differences from your home market.
- Thorough understanding of the cost structure, I mentioned earlier the bonus months of pay.
It is common knowledge that many businesses struggle to ensure compliance with tax, payroll, and social security obligations in new countries. What are the risks in not addressing compliance adequately?
It is true many companies struggle to be compliant, they start out addressing it like the home country, and I can assure you it is not the same. The risk is huge. Unlike here is the US where employees has to sue the employer for some failure, around the world the government comes after you for failure to comply, and you will lose. Employment is by contract around the world, unlike here in the US, there is always some “grey area” it is black and white around the world, compliant or not, and when not it is expensive.
If a company is looking to expand into a new country in the long-term, what factors might affect their decision to establish their own legal entity or hire an employment organization to assist them?
There should only be a few factors in determining the establishment of an entity. The first factor is you have to have an entity to market your products in that country. The second is requirement by government in that country to market to the government. If not for these then bill for the products from the home country and have a professional employment firm handle the employees. This simplifies many reporting issues for both employees and the business. Try to keep unnecessary complications out of your business model.
What are some of the greatest cultural challenges that businesses face when they seek to hire in new markets?
There are many cultural challenges, and they vary by country, here is a list that fits almost all countries.
- Work Visas and renewals for all expats, like US these are difficult and you have to address the way each country wants it done.
- Measuring expectations, most of these countries operate by employment contract not by reviews, so a good contract is a necessity.
- Payroll amounts, bonuses, expenses, etc. all are handle differently in different countries.
- Work day, week, month, year.
- Meeting the expectations of workers within a new country.
Which markets – regional and industry – do you see as presenting the most opportunities in the next decade?
Everyone has heard the “niche market” fit, well I believe there are hundreds of fits around the world. The value comes into play when you fit your product with local marketing reps that culturally fit your product to the needs in this new market. If you have done your due diligence and the market is a good fit, then put the marketing in place and go.
If you could give company executives one piece of advice about expansion into new international markets, what would it be?
All business is hard and complicated or it would not have value. To expand into another country try not to add to these complexities. Keep the focus on the business, not the complexities of international employee compliance. Set proper goals and strategies, reviewed by someone with international knowledge, measure the results and reset goals going forward. Embrace the culture and set business to match this culture. You are good at what you do, “do that” and let someone else handle the details. The word “embrace” has several meanings. I refer to these “accept and support willingly” or “include or contain a constituent part”. Good luck, worldwide presence is fun and it has great success for those who do it well.