There is a lot to be said about the advantages of home turf. You know the lay of the land, you have supporters close by to help you through the rough times, and if you suffer defeat, your home is near enough for you to retreat there and lick your wounds. However, while sticking to the familiar grounds, and starting a business somewhere where you already have a reputation, network of connections, and generally, a history, may be safer, doing so abroad does have significant advantages of its own.

A fresh perspective

The value of in-depth knowledge of a particular country, its dominant markets and the habits of its consumers cannot be disputed or diminished, however, there are other demands placed before businessmen. Now more then ever, you need to stay innovative if you want to succeed; you need to be able to look at the big picture and try to determine your place in it only when you’re sure it is as complete as possible.

This is best illustrated in the case of a Serbian businessman, Branislav Grujic (Branislav Grujić).  Despite being at the beginning of what could have been a promising academic career, and already heading one of the major furniture companies in the country, Grujic needed more. He needed to be somewhere where his plans and ambitions were not held back by the limitations that were imposed by the country he was living in. After moving to Russia, Branislav Grujic starts expanding his company, hiring people from all over the world and soon starts working and opening branches in a number of other European countries.

It was this exposure to other local markets, the way they handled their challenges and the general insights he was able to gather there, that helped him not only predict the influence that the 2008 economic crises would have on these countries, but also roughly estimate when it was going to end in which particular region. The benefits and the business potential such foresight can bring are, without a doubt, far greater than anything you can receive by holding on to your comfort zone.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know

There are not a lot of skills that are as universally important for a businessman of different types as networking is. And there is nothing better at ensuring that you’ll get good at something than having to work at it constantly. Starting a business in a foreign country can be daunting, but it also forces you to get over any barriers you might have and stay focused on the goal. Of course, this way you are also exposed to new people, ones that you have a clean slate with and can build a relationship with from the ground up.

Turning hindsight into foresight

Most businessmen needing a change of scenery will relocate to a country with a higher standard of living. However, if you find out that you don’t have a choice in the matter and must move to a country that is at the lower degree of development than the one you’re leaving, don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing. While you may no longer have access to some of the advanced techniques, tools, or systems you are used to, you still have knowledge of them, and can leverage that knowledge to leave your less-informed competitors behind.

So it’s not all bad

By no means. Even if starting a business in a foreign country can be a challenge, it also comes with perks you don’t if you just stay home. Apart from removing the safety net, which in business often keeps people from advancing just as often as it stops them from falling; it is broadening your horizons, exposing you to new people, and giving you a much better idea of how your efforts measure up in the context of the global market.

Posted by James D. Burbank

James D. Burbank has worked for years in traditional as well as online marketing. He has worked in Central Asia, Europe and Australasia for years, helping US-based companies exhibit at trade shows in those parts of the world, among other things. He’s been on the ground for years and for the last few years, he has also been working in online marketing. James is currently on well-deserved hiatus and blogs about his experiences, the stuff he’s learned and more. Business and marketing all the way. He is also a father of two and a huge Utah Jazz fan.