by Oliver Dowson, CEO, International Corporate Creations
People often ask me “What’s your USP?”. I’m increasingly realising that it can be difficult for others to understand how ICC is different to other professional services – and difficult for us to explain concisely! So I’m going to take a stab here at getting the message across more clearly, specifically for one of our core services of setting up new overseas business operations.
My “elevator pitch” is that, unlike other professional services, we put ourselves in the position of each client, and act as if we are spending our own money, prepared to undertake each step of the process ourselves. We don’t just tell companies what to do, we’re actually prepared to do it. So we have to give complete, accurate and practical details.
But that’s compressing a big project into a few words, so for those who are interested (and I hope that includes you, since you’ve read this far), here’s a more detailed explanation.
International Corporate Creations is unique in its approach to helping its clients expand globally through research and implementing the creation of new wholly-owned subsidiary and Joint Venture companies in any country of the world.
- Before starting each project, we immerse ourselves in understanding our client’s business and their approach and objectives, to ensure that the recommendations we make are those that we would choose ourselves were it our own business.
- We aim to think of absolutely everything that our clients need to know and act on
- We always look for the most cost-effective solution, using trustworthy and reliable local service providers and partners in each country and location that our clients want to enter.
- We’re not a conventional consultancy. We don’t just make recommendations, we’re ready to act on them. Nothing is vague, everything is detailed. If a client wishes, we can implement every step to deliver their new international business as a turnkey solution.
- When we set up a new international operation, we QA every step to ensure that everything will work perfectly from the first day it opens for business.
- We endeavour to quote firm, fixed prices for our services for each stage of each project. Where we cannot do that, we make that clear upfront, with the best estimates we can.
Setting up a new Overseas Operation
We divide setup of a new operation into three stages.
FIRST STEPS (STAGE 0)
This stage costs nothing, and carries no obligation. Our objective is to prepare a proposal for the next stages – but if we find that a project won’t work, we’ll be honest enough to say so. Usually this stage includes:
- Exploratory meetings with the client, by WebEx or face-to-face
- Further research and understanding of the client’s business sufficient to ensure that any Proposal that we submit is likely to be suitable
- Our team brainstorms alternative solutions for the most appropriate and cost-effective solution for the client
- Exploratory discussions are undertaken with ICC contacts in the relevant country
- Initial research into legal and regulatory issues, restrictions and competition, to try to avoid any foreseeable hurdles
- Project evaluation by ICC team
- Preparation of Report and Proposal
- Includes fixed price proposal for Stage 1 (next steps) which would be chargeable
- Includes timeline for performing Stage 1
- Includes a general indication of Stage 2 (if stage 1 approved)
- Presentation to Client – findings of Stage 0 and Proposal for Stage 1 – and Agreement on Next Steps
RESEARCH & ANALYSIS (STAGE 1)
This stage creates a complete model, not only of how to create an overseas subsidiary or JV company, but of how it will work in the future. Depending on country and complexity, this typically takes 6-12 weeks, keeping the client informed of progress on a weekly basis.
- Detailed market study
- High-level discussions with client to agree approach to different aspects of the project and understand corporate methodologies and objectives (Finance, IT, Marketing)
- Analysis of alternative business locations (country and city) and recommendation of the most suitable one(s)
- Research and analysis of relevant business legal, regulatory and employment issues in sufficient detail to enable fully-informed business decisions to be taken
- Identification and selection of suitable local business partners (legal, accountancy, real estate, HR, banking, etc), usually located in or near the recommended destination city
- Analysis of IT infrastructure requirements and any issues
- Evaluation of employment situation (availability of staff with suitable technical and language skills, local competition and retention risks, salary levels and other employment costs. Recommendation for methodology of recruitment and salaries and benefits to be offered.
- Evaluation of training requirements and where this would be done (bring trainer to country or take staff to home base)
- Infrastructure and costs for future client routine visits – transport, hotels with corporate rates, etc.
- Fully detailed costing for Stage 2 Actual Implementation (as accurate as is possible)
- Detailed step by step costed operational plan for the first full year of operation, including all necessary bureaucracy, legal documentation, financial plan, recruitment, training, local promotion and marketing.
- Detailed “Road Map” and proposed timetable for implementation and first year operation. ICC use their skill and experience to identify steps in setup that can be carried out contemporaneously and that therefore make the overall setup process as efficient as possible
- Stage by Stage client update meetings (usually by WebEx)
- Detailed business “Model” presented as a fully-illustrated Report on conclusion of Stage 1
- Exactly what the business would look like on Day One
- What it will look like after 3 months
- What it will look like after 12 months
- “On the ground” presentation – face-to-face meetings at the recommended destination location, with presentation of the detailed business models mentioned above, meetings with suggested local business partners, visits to competitors or similar operations where possible, visits to possible office/property locations, etc. These meetings would be spread over 1-3 days depending on the size of the project, and have the objective of ensuring that ICC’s Stage 1 Report is clearly understood and all client questions are completely answered on the spot.
MAKING IT HAPPEN (STAGE 2)
At the completion of this stage, our client will have a fully-operational overseas company!
- Research and implement any modifications to the Model developed in Stage 1 as required by the client
- Agree implementation plan with client – refine timescale to adjust to client needs and objectives and decide “who does what”. ICC are willing to undertake the entire implementation of setting up an overseas operation for a client, but most clients want to be involved to varying degrees, and every country and project is different, so there is no single model for this stage.
- Carry out implementation of project to set up overseas operation following the step by step plan developed in Stage 1. Typically this will take between 3 and 6 months and include
- Business legalisation (including company name registration, regulatory matters, tax registration, etc)
- Banking arrangements
- Contracts with local business partners for accountancy, legal and other required services
- Business premises acquisition and furnishing
- Staff recruitment and training
- IT infrastructure acquisition/import and installation
- Communications (telephone, internet, etc)
- QA – we test every step of the way to ensure that everything works the way it should
- Complete Transparency Guarantee – When things don’t happen as expected, we consult with our clients immediately and adapt the plan to overcome issues and get back on track as efficiently as possible
At ICC we offer a host of other services revolving around the creation and management of overseas operations of all kinds, in all countries of the world. We aim to take a similarly comprehensive approach to all of them.