It’s always easier to stay where you are and do what you’ve always done, but, increasingly, businesses are looking further afield and asking themselves whether a move abroad might be to their advantage. There is an element of risk of course, there always is with a new business venture and this is certainly a move that requires thorough research. British businesses have particular reason to consider a base in Europe, following the additional costs of working with Europe post-Brexit, and many European countries are going out of their way to welcome foreign business investment. So, whether you have an established business or you’re thinking of launching a start-up, here are some of the benefits of making a move to foreign soil.
Savings on overheads
Perhaps your move is motivated by a need to access the expertise necessary for your business, or simply to access lower cost labour. In Portugal, for example, around 50% of the workforce, aged 20-30, are STEM graduates and consequently, tech expertise can be hired for around a third less than it would cost in Paris or Berlin. There is also the opportunity to make huge savings on the cost of office space. The U.K. has the most expensive office space in Europe, with an annual average of 1,300 euros per square metre. In France that figure drops to 890 euros and in Portugal it is a mere 288 euros and there are thousands of listings available. To give you an indication of the savings that possible, consider the fact that office space in Prague is 90% cheaper than that of Hong Kong.
It’s well worth taking the time to explore the different business incentives offered by governments around the world. Twenty-three countries offer ‘citizenship by investment’ programs, better known as ‘Golden Visas’. The country with the lowest threshold purchase is Greece, where an investment of just 250,000 euros, in commercial property, will gain residency rights for you and your family and freedom of travel within the Schengen territories. The Netherlands offers a ‘start-up visa’ and a corporate tax rate as low as 5% and in France, if you set up a business but your income is linked to, say, a U.S. address, you’ll be exempt from corporation tax. They also offer a 30% tax reduction on all research and development. Your decision about where to settle will depend on the nature and scale of your business but there’s plenty of help out there to get you settled in.
Reach new markets
For many businesses this is the main attraction, an opportunity to trade freely within Europe and to reach new markets. It goes without saying that researching your potential new markets is crucial.
A change of lifestyle
If you have an established brand, you may be concerned about the difficulty of regrowing your ethos and brand loyalty in new soil, but a move enables you to refocus the direction of your business and to refocus your lifestyle and that of your family. Sunshine, more times out of doors, less commuting, a more relaxed pace of life, all of these could be additional benefits of moving your business abroad.