There is a big difference in performing work overseas versus having an office overseas. Having an overseas office is a very different and more difficult process than proving services, although there is a lot of crossover between them.
Photo credit: Judy van der Velden, Flickr
At Shen Milsom & Wilke, the 'Going Global' idea was really not an idea at all; it was a necessity. As the name implies, we were a multicultural firm to begin with. It was just a matter of time as to when and where our first overseas office would open. It came almost on day one. That first office venture was in Hong Kong, and at a time when Hong Kong was part of the British Empire. It was a total no-brainer for us, having had two things in our favor: The inherent knowledge of the business community coupled with a financial environment that more than encouraged international business. So it was easy to do.
As we grew as a firm it became evident that other offices would be required to support the services we were providing. Please read between those lines. We did not go someplace to create business. We had it already. As a result, we understood a portion of the equation but what we learned by being there was of far greater value.
Here are a few of our must-haves for going global:
• A Lawyer: Can you own your own business or do you need a local partner who owns 51 percent?
• An Accountant: You're making great money, but do you mean to tell me I have to pay 25 percent to get it out of the country?
• Understanding and Sensitivity to Culture: Is Friday really Saturday, and Saturday actually Sunday?
Steve Emspak is partner at Shen Milsom & Wilke.
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How to Design Performance Art Halls for the Modern Age, by Steve Pollock
How to Add Communications to the IT Infrastructure, by Ashok Bhatt
How to Help Houses of Worship Reach Beyond the Sanctuary, by Garth Hemphill