Starting a business in a new Country… How hard can it be?

So, you pack up your bags, sell your house and any major asset you own, say goodbye to your family and friends to set off to open a new business on literally the other side of the world.  It’s long overdue, however I wanted to share my experiences – the good, bad and ugly and open up to my network any advice I can pass on and perhaps gain some good insight from others who have successfully built a business in a new country.

To start, a brief history on how Logical came to be in the land down under.  Our business has been in the Sales & Tech recruitment market for the past 17 years in the UK – our Founder Rob Carlton, is still with the business and I joined the Company in 2004 – yes, this makes me feel very old!  After the highs and lows the UK recruitment market and recession had to offer, I wanted a change and new challenge which led me to the faraway shores of Australia.  Why not?!  Better work life balance I heard, amazing weather, great people… I’d say 1 of these is not correct here, and no, it’s not the people?, it’s the work life balance!

Maybe, it’s the challenge of starting from, effectively, scratch again…how do you build your brand, how do you build your teams, what is your USP in a country where you have no network…?  The answer, to overcome all of these is long hours, a hell of a lot of networking and promoting a great, transparent service every time.  After all, you only get one shot to make an impression!

In short, doing business in Australia has not been the most challenging, yes, working alone and developing business can be tough, the first few months I found the strangest part being that I really felt like ‘just another recruiter’ on my calls.  This is obviously something I needed to work on, suppose I got used to the warm leads, referrals and brand recognition in the UK. I was rusty!  However, over time, I gained trust with the network and found myself fitting in nicely to the market, which can sometimes be detrimental to your health in the Melbourne summer time with the ‘pub’ meetings!

So, where have the hard times come from?

Firstly, actually being able to do business here!  What I mean is, legally operating in Australia and jumping through the red tape of Visas, the accounting processes & policies and legal jargon!  Killer for someone who, I am not ashamed to say, is better suited to the ‘relationship’ skills in business!

I have been very lucky to find some excellent professionals to help me on my journey, Arthur Katos – my accountant who now is a forever friend, keeping me right!  Susan Wang, probably the most patient and knowledgeable Visa agent I have worked with – she completely saved me when another agency was not so great at presenting accurate info!  To add to my point here on thanks, I have to say the people of Australia are one of the best – you can grab a coffee with someone here and discuss business and before you know it you have an intro and solution to your problem, I could list all the many people who have helped me out however it would take up the whole blog!  Key thanks to these peeps though; Jenny Evans, Ben Ladkin, Carl Thomas, Duncan MacWhirter, Danny Blaker.

Secondly, and I really empathise with ‘start-ups in new markets’ and always will – finding good staff! Wow!  Yes, we are a recruitment business however no different to any other business and face the same challenges, and let’s be fair, who jumps at the chance to work with 1 person who happens to be their boss all day, every day and business development is around 90% of your role!  I’ve had some ups and downs whilst trying to build my, in my opinion, ‘cracking team’.  No negative experiences and I can only thank those who went on my journey with me however long or short.

We are now a team of 4 – not huge but then again, bigger is not always better!  We are growing, not fast enough to keep up with opportunity and demand however one step at a time!  Our business, I feel is becoming a recognised player in the Australian market, yes, we still have a way to go however with 50% of business coming through referrals I for one am not complaining and thanks to all who think of us!

We have now launched a new service offering to the market, introduced to add value to the Australian business community and to be launched in the UK soon after, headed up by Talent Veteran, Jason Demillo.  We have invested in a unique product to enhance the application journey for candidates globally (coming very soon).  Have opened offices in LA and I feel have the foundations in place to have ourselves a global talent offering, a great place to work and better your career objectives with a solution and service we are truly proud of.

Last on my list of thank yous are my business partners, although I’ve been on the other side of the World, their ears when needed has been invaluable, Rob Carlton, Kurt Wagner.  My team, past and present – always supportive on both sides of the Globe – thank you!  Debbie Raddings, absolute Godsend!

Advice for growing your business to another part of the world;

  • Network like there is no tomorrow and always ask for help! I have an issue with this, too proud! ?
  • Do your homework – for partners, suppliers and customers – suppliers most for me here guys!
  • Invest in marketing – seriously! I am so bad at this, I am ashamed!
  • Don’t give up… ever
  • Be ready for long hours, hard work and knowing you are effectively alone for some time
  • When you fail, in any area of business don’t be hard on yourself – it happens!
  • Make sure you represent what you and your business stand for every day!
  • Be the best you can be to do business with!
  • Start planning WELL in advance and DON’T take on too much! I made errors here!!

I’d love to hear shared stories and advice – we are still very new here!  And, if I can help anyone with my experiences then PM me – happy to help!  Good luck all!

 

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