One of the many great things about working for yourself is the opportunity to choose who you work with. You have the final say if you want to take on a client and if you want to walk away from them if it isn’t working.
If you work primarily online, then you aren’t tied down by geographical location when it comes to clients. But there are some things you need to take into account when working with a client in a different country.
Exchange rates and payment gateways
When being paid by clients in a different country, there are a few things you need to consider when working out the best way to get paid.
You will need to take into account the exchange rates between your currency and that of your clients. After all, you don’t want your profit margins to be eaten up by fluctuating exchange rates.
Additionally, some methods of payment can incur a fee for sending and converting currencies. Some people like to use PayPal or you can open a UK business account that accepts foreign currency transfers.
Get the right professional indemnity insurance
When you’re self-employed, you should have professional indemnity insurance to cover you against claims should a client be unhappy. You might think that your current professional indemnity insurance covers you for any work that you do but that may not be the case. Many policies don’t automatically include cover for work you do for clients outside of the county. You will need to get this added to your policy and it may cost additional fees to add this.
It’s important that you’re insured though so don’t skip this step. Adequate insurance is also a prerequisite for working with many companies.
Factor in time zones
If you’re in a very different time zone from your client, you will have to agree at the outset when you will both be available to contact each other. Most people are happy with asynchronous communication these days but if you aren’t careful, it can lead to project timescales slipping and lack of communication.
Set out your boundaries clearly or you could slip into the trap of not being able to switch off as you’re constantly fielding client calls and emails.
Learn any relevant cultural customs
Every country has its own unique culture and customs. In order to be respectful to your client and avoid insulting or making them feel uncomfortable, then you should do some research into and relevant customs. It can be something as simple as knowing when any public holidays or religious festivals are so that you are not contacting them on these days.
Working with international clients is an exciting step in your business, but there are many ways you can potentially get caught out by various legal and tax policies if you’re not careful.
Before you sign anything, set out your working patterns, expectations around work and communication and get up to speed on the culture of the countries you’re going to be working with.