mlive article

Assemble a Team When Planning your Business for International Expansion

Expanding your business is one thing, but doing so internationally is a whole other challenge. It’s a challenge that includes multiple layers, so it’s crucial to assemble a team to help guide your way. Patrick Mutchler of Brickley DeLong, an independent CPA firm in West Michigan, stresses the importance of developing a team when planning for inbound or outbound expansion. “For business owners, this team should include both a U.S. accountant and an overseas accountant they have faith in,” Mutchler said. “It’s wise to hire someone who specializes in designing company structure where the business plans to expand.” Every country behaves differently when it comes to business. Mutchler cited that even culture can affect international expansion. One example he provided was how in Germany, silence proves you know you are doing a good job. This is contrary to the United States where good performance is more vocalized with an ‘attaboy’ mentality. Mutchler went on to say that, even sales and marketing approaches may need to change. In the United States, a sale is more likely to happen based on personal relationships. The idea of “selling” in Germany is deemed a negative term; and, sales are more likely based on facts. “With culture and language barriers, it’s important to not overlook these realities when planning your expansion,” Mutchler said. Of course, there are far more complex challenges in international expansion—many of them falling within the accounting and tex realms, such as tax treaties. Brickley DeLong has experience establishing the necessary connections to formulate a thorough, communicative team in assisting an expansion. For example, Brickley DeLong is part of CPAmerica—one of the largest associations of independently owned and managed CPA and consulting firms in the United States. Through CPAmerica International, Mutchler and Brickley DeLong have a plethora of resources and marketing materials at their disposal, including access to Crowe Horwath International. “I can easily email someone at CPAmerica to locate an English-speaking accountant in the client’s desired expansion area,” Mutchler said. This can essentially set up a business owner with a local liaison. Having an advisor with a wealth knowledge of where you want to go will help in cultural differences, the understanding of local laws and more. Another thing to consider when building your team is to make sure communication is effective so there is no confusion in the process. Communication with outbound and inbound expansion can get technical, so it shouldn’t solely be done through email. Getting on the phone and being proactive is an important part of this process. Once these steps are done, your team starts to take shape. Mutchler said Brickley DeLong is so entrenched with their clients that together they excel at keeping the team fully functional and highly attentive. He also stated Brickley DeLong makes sure the team is comfortable with one another. This is necessary since the expansion development can be long and certainly not rushed. “Everyone is an important client,” Mutchler said. “We strive to give everyone the time and attention they deserve.” The process Brickley DeLong established has proved successful for expanding clients. Much of this is attributed to networking and relationship building overseas, namely in Germany, Canada, Austria, United Kingdom and Mexico. From visiting firms, preparing presentations and attending events, Brickley DeLong’s footprint overseas is well noticed. Visit Mlive for the original published article for more information.