SMB Matters

Are You Ready to Take Over the World? Read This First

August 15, 2017 · 5 min read


Bjorn Reynolds is founder and chief executive officer of SafeGuard World. SafeGuard World provide smart solutions for managing your workforce – wherever they are located.

I speak to entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. and they often share the same sentiment—that international expansion is beyond them. Many believe that going global is an expensive and resource-draining initiative only suitable for large enterprises with instantly recognizable brand names.

If you are an entrepreneur who thinks international expansion is nothing more than a pipe dream for your small or midsize business (SMB), give me a minute to convince you that it may not be such a farfetched idea.

The one resource you need to start going global

You may already be familiar with the professional employer organization (PEO) model. A PEO is a company, like TriNet, that provides employers with vital HR services such as payroll, benefits administration and compliance assistance with employer-related laws, while allowing the employer to manage their own day-to-day business operations.

Similar to the U.S. based PEO model, an employer-of-record service meets the international employment needs of SMBs in more than 115 countries around the world. The combination of expertise in emerging global markets with the employer-of-record offering makes it possible for even small businesses to reach their goals of international expansion.

Breaking the barriers of international expansion

Moving into markets in other countries may sound complicated but it is a lot more attainable than you may think. Here are four of the most common perceived barriers to global expansion and ways an international employer-of-record can alleviate even the most obstinate concerns.

1. Cost

One of the most frequently cited obstacles to international expansion is the substantial cost. There are initial and ongoing legal considerations, accountants and banking fees to consider, as well as the cost of the employer’s insurances, business licenses and recruiting of international staff. The list can appear endless.

When you consider that an international employer of record can provide support for all the above—and more—as part of its standard service, the costs of expanding into a new country can be dramatically reduced.

2. Uncertainty of new markets

Organizations are facing increasing pressure from shareholders to show a positive return on investment. With every move scrutinized, there can be a reluctance to undertake a risk as substantial as expanding operations into a new country.

In this case, a traditional expansion, with the necessary setup and closure processes (if the venture doesn’t turn out as planned), could be prohibitive. However, with the flexibility and global coverage offered through an international employer-of-record service, organizations can try out new markets for as long or short a period as they deem necessary without committing to any unnecessary expense. Employees can be engaged on fixed or indefinite term contracts. With no entity in place, if you eventually decide to cease operations in a specific country, your company’s exit from that region can be conducted in a timely and cost efficient manner.

3. Immediacy issues

With few exceptions, the number of processes and level of bureaucracy involved make establishing your company in a new country no quick or easy task. Quite a bit of research and due diligence accompany such a venture.

Whether an organization is looking to hire an individual or find an employment solution following an acquisition, the moment of opportunity to expand internationally can frequently pass by when resources are focused on pursuing a conventional expansion model. An international employer-of- record service negates this lengthy setup period with a ready-vetted, international network that is ready to swing into action.

4. Lack of local knowledge

Navigating foreign laws and regulations, cultural nuances, complex tax codes and employment agreements is not easy, even for the most experienced business professionals. Locating an in-country resource you can trust is a fantastic way to circumvent these challenges. However, you still need the right in-country connections or you can find yourself burning through numerous resources before connecting with an individual or company you can rely on.

Attempting to take on these responsibilities without the practiced aid of an expert could result in employment noncompliance, which may be punishable by fines or even prison.  A trusted in-country provider will have access to a global network of local experts who can steer organizations through even the most complex HR and employment challenges, no matter what changes to legislation occur or what issues arise.

If you’re considering international expansion or have previously been deterred by perceived obstacles, Safeguard World, through its partnership with TriNet, may be able to help. Do not let a lack of in-country resources prevent you from realizing your international ambitions. Contact TriNet to learn more about taking your SMB international.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance. This post may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties other than TriNet. Such hyperlinks are provided for reference only. TriNet does not control such websites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of such hyperlinks on does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or association with their operators.

The opinions and views expressed by guest authors of the TriNet blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of TriNet or any of its affiliates or partners.