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Working abroad: How to start your own business

Ever dreamed of taking your ‘side hustle’ and turning it into a profitable living? It’s something many of us have pondered at some stage.

There's never been a better time to go into business online. We explore how. Photo: Getty Images

Most of us put this dream aside when considering the challenges of starting a business in a different country. As it turns out, setting up as a budding international entrepreneur may not be as difficult as you think, with technology removing many of the barriers.  

Together with online telecommunications provider Zadarma, we identify key reasons why it’s never been easier to run a business as an international.

Securing your data

Staying safe online and securing your data is essential for anyone wanting to go into business. Fortunately, compared to even 10 years ago, keeping prying eyes away from confidential business data is much easier, even if you are in a place with a reputation for lax cybersecurity and hacking attacks. 

This is partly the fruits of bitter experience. Over the last two decades a number of data leaks, enabled by hackers, have resulted in the details of millions of customers being distributed online. This has included some of their most sensitive information, such as credit card details and medical records – exposing businesses to serious litigation. 

Consequently, the cybersecurity industry increasingly focuses on encryption, meaning that intercepted data is unreadable without the right credentials –hackers and other bad actors will just find a scrambled mess of letters and numbers. 

Therefore, encryption is built into most of the online products you use today, especially those used for business purposes. Email providers such as Gmail provide end-to-end encryption, as well as popular chat products such as WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. Even services that offer telephony over the internet, such as Zadarma, encrypt phone calls, so nobody can listen in. 

Ensure the online products that you use apply encryption and other security measures – such as two-factor authentication, where you must manually approve logins to services – and you can rest assured that your security needs are met, wherever you are in the world. 

Learn more about how Zadarma keeps customer data safe and secure, giving you and your customers more confidence

Open access: VoIP technology makes business communication easier than ever. Photo: Getty Images

Keeping track of customers

As a small business operator, keeping track of your customers’ needs used to be quite tricky. Depending on your budget or size, this could depend on paper files, or a small database containing customer information. This wasn’t the most flexible or agile way of tracking customers and led to frustration on both sides. It was especially difficult for internationals, who didn’t have the space or resources to establish complex customer tracking systems. 

In the past decade, the business world has responded to this frustration and business need with the creation of Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) that allow constantly updated records of customer sales and queries to be used when communicating with clients. These database systems also allow outgoing communication to be targeted toward the right customers, vastly reducing the amount of ‘spam’ customers receive from businesses – something that customers are increasingly fed up with.

It’s safe to say that a CRM is now an essential tool for any small business, and one of the few that allow growth beyond a certain scale. There are now CRMs designed for businesses of any size, and there are also CRMs targeted at certain industries. Whatever your needs, there will be something that suits you. You may even like to consider an internet telephony package that comes with a custom CRM built-in, such as that provided by Zadarma

Discover Zadarma’s own custom-built CRM that includes functionality across multiple systems – making assisting and retaining your customers easier than ever

Weathering instability

Up until a few years ago, the measure of how successful a business was included its physical footprint – did it have a shopfront, and how complex were its communications or IT infrastructure?  Small businesses often found it hard to accurately visualize their own success in comparison. 

Recent events have rendered that idea moot. The coronavirus pandemic, overseas conflicts, and economic instability have meant that businesses have had to be flexible to survive. A recent Axios article mentioned earlier found that in some US cities, four out of five physical businesses had closed during the pandemic.

Where businesses have boomed is in the online space instead, as services have arrived to replace physical systems and products with digital equivalents. 

One revolutionary product taking businesses online is internet telephony, known widely as Voice over Internet Protocol, or ‘VoIP’. VoIP technology has meant that the types of phone exchange or ‘PBX’ found at the centre of physical businesses can now be replicated in an online manner – calls can be redirected across town, or across continents to team members. 

This is especially important for internationals, who may be part of remote teams. Also important for internationals is that VoIP  allows for the use of ‘virtual phone numbers’, making setting up phone numbers in different countries incredibly cheap. Internationals going into business can now ensure a global presence, without a massive cost, vastly increasing their customer base.

In 2022, there are a wide variety of VoIP and PBX providers, each offering a wide range of services that mean that those wanting to start a small business no longer need to outlay a significant cost to get started. 

One such provider is Zadarma, whose VoIP and online PBX solutions have worked seamlessly for millions of customers since 2006. They have ensured that businesses have secure, robust fully-featured telephony networks that bring customer data to their fingertips, effortlessly – removing one of the major obstacles for internationals wanting to go into business in 2022. 

Zadarma frees your business from physical networks and international borders, while keeping your data safe – explore solutions that fit your needs today

LIVING IN FRANCE

France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

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