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The Day-to-Day of Running an International Company

Tue, 11 February 2014

Contributed by Jamie Dunn, Director at Spark Global Education
Following on from my previous blog, I received quite a few questions on the specifics of running an international company, so I’m hoping to answer some of them in this piece.
On a day-to-day basis, the single biggest challenge of going international is managing the time zones, and with that, managing your sleep patterns that come with it. Last year I did a lot of work in India, which is five and half hours ahead of UK time, so a common occurrence would be that I would wake up to a flood of emails that required immediate action. So, to combat this I changed my daily working routine. I would wake up at 3.30 UK time, 9am India time, have a Skype call, deal with the immediate actions and then go back to sleep for a couple of hours ready for working time in the UK – and I did this for the duration of the project we were managing in India. It helped things get completed more quickly and was less stressful for me in terms of waking up to a flood of activity. So, my advice here is simple, be prepared to change your working routine when trying to crack an international marketplace. 
When going international, you are most likely going to be experiencing growth and trying to gain clients and relationships in a new marketplace; it’s an exciting time. With this, it is key to develop the right relationships and doing this requires a lot of time and effort in learning the cultures, and business practices, of the countries you are working in. Some countries have different practices and it’s important to learn them. For example, when working in China, business cards are treasured and studied by the people you hand them to and a big focus is placed upon your title and the respect that you show to those in higher positions than you. Now, in the UK, I don’t use business cards as I think they are very outdated, whereas when working in China, or with Chinese organisations, I always get cards printed. 
Growing internationally is also difficult because you will need to hire the right people to do the ‘on the ground work’ for you and have that local presence. If you are going to employ them and set up an office in the country region, you will have to explore the legal and tax implications of doing this, as each region will have different rules in regards to business registration, legalities and so forth. Initially, to keep the costs of growth as low as possible, we developed an associate network that we didn’t employ, but we utilized them on a contract-by-contract basis. This meant we didn’t have a recurring cost or have to undergo tax and legal implications of business registration in that region. It would also mean that the associates could provide a great local knowledge and introduce you to the local organisations in your field that could add further value to your company. 
So, going international is hard, but if you feel that you have the right business to go global, then get the right people on the ground in the region, keep it as cost effective as possible, and be prepared to change your working routine. If you can do this, you are well on your way to taking your business international. 

About Jamie Dunn (Director of ‘Spark Global Education')

Jamie is a 22 year-old Entrepreneur that has previously been short-listed as one of the Top 20 Young People in the World 2012, a title once held by former US President, John F Kennedy. 
Jamie started in enterprise aged 12 selling unwanted items at school. By the time he was 15 he was making around £500 per week from 5 market stalls across Birmingham. At the age of 16, Jamie left school with little qualifications but won a place on the Peter Jones Pathfinder course as one of 28 from nationwide applicants, with this he moved to Buckinghamshire for 6 months. 
Aged 18, Jamie Co-founded the printing organization, Made By Young People that eventually held clients such as, Aston Villa, Ikea and Asda. Jamie successfully exited this business aged 20. Since then, Jamie has gone on to work with Governments and Educational Organizations from around the World on developing Youth Entrepreneurship eco-systems. Most notably, Jamie was an adviser to the Malaysian Government office surrounding enterprise education. During this time, Jamie also co-founded a multi-million pound investment fund, which provides mentoring, office space, finance and support to young people in the West Midlands who are setting up in business. 
Jamie now spends most of his time as a Director, Shareholder in Spark Global Education, an educational consultancy with operations globally. As an investor, Jamie has equity interests in different sectors ranging from Recruitment to Technology. Jamie also sits on, and advises many different boards and trusts including the BMET Enterprise Academy, Arrive Alive, TechMinsk and Arden Forest FC. Jamie also writes regular columns for, Shell LiveWire and various other publications and websites.

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