Editor’s note: “International Business Corner” is a new weekly column written by Joan Keston that will be providing information for people involved in or considering international operations. Keston is an international business consultant. Over the next several months she will be writing about important issues that international businesses face as they compete in the 21st-century global business environment. This article is the second in a series about building international bridges.

CHAPEL HILL – In order to be successful in global business you must build bridges between the U.S. and each country where you plan to do business. We talked last week about the importance of a corporate development executive and an international executive.

In addition to these people, you will need individuals located in each country where you are doing business. Conceptually these individuals comprise the pilings of your international bridge. Although these individuals will focus on and understand the international work you are doing, they have the skills and knowledge to execute the components of your business plan that are in the domestic business culture being addressed.

What International Expertise Do We Need?

These are the individuals primarily located in the US.

1. Global Market Study Consultant

This task is much more complex internationally. This person must have access to people in the industry in the country you plan to do business.

2. Trade Specialist

If you are exporting products, then you will need trade specialists to assist in export documentation, transportation, logistics, etc.

3. Tax Planning Professional

Depending on the complexity of your business, you may need international tax attorneys as well as accountants with domestic and international skills for tax planning.

4. International Attorney

These attorneys will assist you in addressing the legal issues affecting your international business. Due diligence and compliance are two areas that have become much more complex and onerous over the past decade.

What Foreign Expertise Do We Need?

These are the individuals located in the country where you plan to do business

1. Foreign Attorney

Each country where you plan to do business has its own legal tradition and laws. Although you may have qualified under certain international conventions each country will determine whether it accepts and applies international law. In addition, contracts have different levels of importance and terms of enforceability in each country.

2. Foreign Accountant

You will need a foreign accountant to handle your foreign taxes and possibly serve as a representative to the governmental taxing authorities.

3. Trade Specialist

If you are exporting products, then you will need local trade specialists to assist in import documentation, customs, logistics, etc.

4. Foreign Management

This is a local business executive who has a deep cultural understanding of the foreign country including the business culture, is able to communicate well with your international executive and corporate development executive, is dedicated to the success of your business venture, has potentially necessary political connections, and knows how to achieve your goals and objectives.

5. Market Penetration Leaders

These individuals have the necessary sales and marketing experience and skills to help you achieve your market penetration metrics in the foreign country or region.

Don’t Be a Penny-Wise and a Pound-Foolish

The individuals that comprise your international bridge are as important to the success of your endeavor as are the actual opportunities created by your product and service offerings. It may be more costly in the initial phases of your business to employ the recommended individuals; however their experience and knowledge will serve to avoid potentially costly pitfalls later in your transaction or business dealings at a point when extensive investments of time and resources, and possibly a contractual commitment, have already been made.

Joan Keston is a Senior Managing Principal of Keston & Associates, Ltd., an international business consulting firm located in Raleigh, NC, and a partner at Paladin and Associates, Inc. She has over 20 years of corporate business experience, including as a corporate attorney. Her firm assists companies establish business operations throughout the world. She can be reached at (919) 881-7764 and jkeston@kestonassociates.com.