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Apollo Internet Limited is a holding company based in the Isle of Man that incubates & acquires early-stage internet businesses. Equipped with an experienced global C-Suite team, Apollo Internet executes internet products and service offerings that break through international borders. Apollo Internet strives to provide the most robust set of unit economics, yielding consistent and exponential returns for its global investor base.

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Compliance in an Age of Global Business

The internet created a global marketplace, yet laws and regulations around the world are still far behind. Managing compliance in the age of global business is both a business risk and an opportunity for innovation. From the more risk-averse large companies looking to expand to online start-ups with an international client base, getting compliance right . . .

The internet created a global marketplace, yet laws and regulations around the world are still far behind. Managing compliance in the age of global business is both a business risk and an opportunity for innovation.

From the more risk-averse large companies looking to expand to online start-ups with an international client base, getting compliance right during global growth is vital. It’s going to make scaling a business easier at the growth stage and facilitate long-term success.

With that, we’re going to look at:

  • The main risks involved in global growth
  • How to protect a business from global compliance issues
  • Ways to avoid compliance barriers in international business

Business risks in global compliance

No matter how fast your business moves, it’s always going to be constrained by ensuring its complaint in all the jurisdictions it operates in. Often, it can feel arbitrary and irritating to have to follow rules from different countries with different legal bases.

The risks that your operations team will need to contend with fall into four broad categories.

Taxation

Business across borders raises taxation issues. There are plenty of businesses that have paved the way to finding an optimal setup, but you need to find a model that will both work for your organisation and be as tax efficient as possible.

Regulatory frameworks

Each company you operate in will have different regulatory bodies. Some industries will always have a regulator, such as finance, whilst issues around gaming, messaging, and trading, for example, can vary widely between jurisdictions.

Human resources

From hiring practices to insurance and tax; HR in a global business can be a big challenge. This is an area where there will always be specific laws covering issues such as minimum wages, working hours, holidays, and tax withholding, to name just a few.

Finance

Cross-border payments have become immensely easier over the last decade, with start-ups competing with major systems like SWIFT. Getting paid by customers and managing forex risks are fresh considerations when a business goes international.

Working with global compliance issues in a growing business

There’s no single way to manage the risks that come with global business. There are solutions across different areas, with SaaS businesses and traditional service providers clamouring to provide answers to the questions that are being asked more and more frequently.

Time was, international tax efficiency was an issue for multinationals with time and resources to find the right answers for their circumstances. Now, every type of business can operate online and across borders.

To ensure tax compliance, a business needs to engage an accountant who understands this level of operations. A company with global offices can be ideal, but one with links to other jurisdictions or education around international commerce should be able to navigate issues like:

  • Double-taxation treaties
  • Repatriating profits
  • Import, export, and sales taxes
  • Tax breaks and benefits for foreign investors

To name just a few.

A business lawyer is the next step to getting your business in line with different regulations. Choose a lawyer with international experience – one who can speak the language of your target markets, such as Mandarin or Spanish, will be helpful coordinating across borders.

The cost of falling foul of regulations in different countries is high. Having someone on your team who understands international relations, such as Facebook’s hire of former British and European politician Nick Clegg, will be worth the investment.

Dealing with HR in different countries has off-the-shelf business solutions. Most countries with a global outlook will have local business services that you can contract to hire your local employees before deciding to fully invest in the company.

This type of setup means signing a contract with a supplier, working with them to recruit the right team, and having them deal with local income taxes, insurance, and general compliance. Another solution is to work with freelancers and contractors through sites like Upwork, mitigating a range of liabilities.

A competent CFO should be able to get a handle on international payments and liabilities. There are new service providers like Wise, Stripe, and Revolut offering innovative products that allow your business to take payments around the world and manage your currencies.

Global leverage and financing projects can be somewhat easier with assets spread across the world, but this type of setup can also be seen as riskier to banks. Access to capital may be best sought through investment until scale is achieved.

Doing international business without compliance issues

Businesses that have the world as their audience are a tempting prospect. With so much effort, attention, and compliance work to take on, it can also be a minefield.

Rewards come with risks, and you can take out the personal and business risk by investing in businesses that are already in place and tackling issues. There is a limited pool of people who can navigate global business compliance, so tapping into their skills through investment is a smart move.

Rather than starting a business and having to jump over the hurdles of tax, finances, laws, and HR, putting your money into a global business takes away work. Yes, there will still be risks, but the work finding the right business to invest in is less than working through each issue one by one.

Compliance in the age of global business

Working through the red tape of different countries across multiple continents carries risk and brings reward. Taking on a business poised for global growth requires patience, creativity, and the right connections to make things happen.

Are you interested in discussing how you can be a part of global business with regulations and compliance taken care of? Contact us to discuss international investment into businesses with these issues already figured out. 

Fast-Growing, Investable Online Business Models

There’s a world of opportunity to invest in online startups.  Knowing where to go to find business worth the time and due diligence is the challenge.  Thousands of entrepreneurs are out there, touting their new idea and claiming to be industry disruptors. They may be, but nearly every online business falls into one of three . . .

There’s a world of opportunity to invest in online startups. 

Knowing where to go to find business worth the time and due diligence is the challenge. 

Thousands of entrepreneurs are out there, touting their new idea and claiming to be industry disruptors. They may be, but nearly every online business falls into one of three business models. 

Spending money on goods and services online is big business. Nearly US$4.3 trillion was spent online in 2020, that’s more than one dollar in every five of retail spending going to internet-based product and service providers. 

Tapping into that spending trend has huge potential for growth. Knowing what to look for in tried-and-true online businesses takes some knowledge, so we’re going to go through what we’ve learned. 

Here, we’re talking about: 

  • Selling services
  • Trading information
  • Retailing products

Looking into how a successful online business should be structured and real examples of businesses succeeding in their funding. 

Let’s get into it. 

Selling an online service

The growth of online services has been exponential. The eServices market was worth US$450 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow to more than US$632 billion by 2027. 

Online services encapsulate a broad range of products, including: 

  • Cloud storage
  • OTT video streaming
  • Digital and social media marketing
  • Web development
  • Management consultancy

Software as a Service (SaaS) is one of the biggest growth sectors in online services with companies like Shopify, Asana, and Lemlist advancing through the business cycle and scaling quickly. 

Pros of investing in an online services business

  • Low overheads with remote working and few sunk costs
  • A faster route to market than with a physical product
  • Business can be more responsive to change and supply needs, adding server space is easier than warehouse space

Cons of investing in an online services business

  • Highly competitive market with tech giants ready to copy a concept quickly
  • Finding product-market fit for the product needs strong leadership
  • Accounting issues with international teams become a challenge

A real-world investable retail business

PolyAI received US$14 million in its second fundraising round, following a US$12 million series A injection in March 2019

The company started life at the University of Cambridge and uses artificial intelligence to offer conversational customer services. Similar technology has recently been acquired by Microsoft, showing that there is a clear need in the world for this SaaS. 

Selling an information service

Information is money, whether we’re talking about big data or edtech services. 

Selling information as a business service requires expertise in niche fields to really take on a market. That being said, a lot of disruptive businesses fall under selling information services. 

Consider online real estate listings that changed the market forever just a few short years ago. More recently, healthtech like online consultations with professional doctors have begun to change how medicine is practiced. 

Pros of an online services business

  • Lots of opportunities to change how gated information is put out across many industries
  • Works with the membership model to boost annual recurring revenue
  • Globalizes knowledge to take experts into new geographies

Cons of an online services business

  • Requires genuine expertise to be a scalable proposition
  • Big data information services require storage and potentially edge computing skills
  • Can come into regulatory issues when providing expertise across borders

A real-world investable information business

Fin harnesses the big data outputs of employees, analyzes it, and delivers it to clients as visualizations and insight. 

Series A funding has just closed with US$20 million and the long-term should see the company become a “process mining company that is focused on service teams”, according to investors Coatue

Selling a retail product

A business model as old as time, retailing physical items is a proven business model. 

Here, the focus is on the product and how it differentiates from the competition. Is it worth investing in a business that’s selling the same product as the market leader at a lower cost? Or a faster delivery? 

A truly investable online retail business is product-driven. The product needs to have a long life-cycle where it can mature into the market and innovate with new iterations and fresh product lines. 

Proven demand for the product is needed if you’re looking to invest after the seed round. You may only see a few hundred or thousand sales, but if the margins can be reduced and the market feedback is promising, then it could be a positive investment. 

Pros of investing in an online retail business

  • It’s a tangible product that should make sense to the market without too much support
  • Marketing at trade shows, expos, and fairs with something to show is easy
  • The online marketplace gives the product a global reach and reduces overheads

Cons of investing in an online retail business

  • Warehousing and logistics costs grow as the business scales
  • Quality control during manufacturing becomes burdensome
  • International buyers can be put off by shipping and import costs

A real-world investable retail business

Teatis is a diabetic-friendly sugar alternative, put together by serial entrepreneur Hiroshi Takatoh from Japan. Along with expanding into the North American market, the company plans to offer dietitian consultations and other complementary services.

The company completed a seed round in September 2021, raising US$700,000 after going fully operational in April of the same year. 

With venture capitalists and angel investors getting in on the opening rounds, there’s clearly still space in the online retail market for new products. Indeed, the US market for diabetic meal replacement is worth US$5 billion per year.

Investable business models

Everything that you can invest in online will fit into one of these three business models. The risk to reward can be high, such as a SaaS with huge potential entering a crowded market, trying to get its difference out there. 

With so much money being spent online and nearly every offline business having a digital equivalent, the options are endless. We’ve only seen a fraction of what online business can do; there’s more out there ready to shake up how we do things. 

Want to discuss getting involved in online startups? Contact us to arrange a call. 

The Power of Remote Working for International Business

Business has been moving towards remote working for years. Even before recent upheavals, remote work had been an option.  In 2019, there were already more than 50 million Americans working away from the office at least once a week. The rate of adoption of remote working has been accelerated and now nearly 41 million Americans . . .

Business has been moving towards remote working for years. Even before recent upheavals, remote work had been an option. 

In 2019, there were already more than 50 million Americans working away from the office at least once a week. The rate of adoption of remote working has been accelerated and now nearly 41 million Americans expect to work fully remote by 2026.

The draw for workers is clear to understand, but what’s the business case for remote working? In a globalized business landscape, starting as a remote-first or remote-only business has an appeal that’s hard to ignore.

Already, 13% of executives are ready to let go of the office for good, so we’re going to look at the reasons why remote work is the future for startups and corporations alike, paying attention to:

  • Business costs
  • Productivity and output
  • Talent acquisition
  • Staff retention

And also discuss some of the potential pitfalls

Lower overheads

In a Gartner survey of CFOs before the pandemic, already 74% were considering moving at least 5% of their operations remotely. This type of change isn’t taken lightly; the ones in control of the purse strings know where costs come from and how to reduce them.

A whole host of cost savings can be realized when your workforce is fully remote, such as:

  • Reduction in office space and associated costs such as utilities and security
  • On-site technical maintenance – reimbursing for hardware and software can work out much cheaper
  • Travel expense and mileage

Real estate is a big potential saving, with 87% of executives surveyed by PwC expecting to make changes to their real estate policy as they expand remote working post-pandemic. Of those, 61% expected that they’d consolidate office space in at least one city – the overhead reduction is clear.

On top of these costs that can be cut – or not be laid out in the first place if you go remote from the start – workers are more amenable to different salary structures. Over one-third of workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% in return for fully remote working.

Increased productivity

Traditional managers have the perception that not having their team visible to directly supervise means they won’t complete their work. The need to have supervisory control over workers can actually be counterproductive.

Trusting a workforce to complete their tasks on their schedule and still complete deliverables increases their productivity, which directly impacts the bottom line. In fact, 77% of workers in a global survey said they were fully productive when working from home, a number that jumps to 85% in the Americas.

Within the same data, we’re told that 72% of people feel better able to deal with distractions and interruptions whilst 80% felt they could be more creative. In the same survey, 68% of respondents said they were “very successful” working at home.

This means that not only is productivity not compromised, but it’s also actually boosted by location-independent working.

Of course, productivity adds to your bottom line. It’s estimated that remote working can increase productivity by up to 21%, which can result in up to $1.4 million added to your revenue. Increasing engagement through remote working can have a strong, positive financial effect on your business.

A larger talent pool

In terms of your talent, working fully remote means that you can take advantage of skills on a global scale.

With no site visits and no commutes, you can get the best programmer for your needs in Ukraine, the top sales team in London, and a graphics designer in Bangkok. Language skills are rarely a barrier and you’ll have access to exactly what you need.

Working with freelancers also becomes a much more attractive, indeed logical step when you can hire globally. In fact, in an Upwork survey of hiring managers, 53% said they’re open to using freelancers and 71% plan to hire more in the next six months.

Remote working removes geographic confines and allows you to harness the skills and education available around the world.

Reduced staff turnover

Once you’ve found the ideal team from across the globe, maintaining remote working is a cost-effective way to keep them engaged. With the average cost of hiring a new team member over $4,100 and 42 days, keeping hold of good workers is invaluable.

Remote working is a power draw and a way to keep a team on side. In a Gallup poll, 54% of office workers said they’d leave their current job for another if flexible working patterns like remote working were on offer.

What’s more, highly engaged employers see absenteeism fall 41%, quality defects reduce by 40%, and that all-important 21% increase in productivity that we just looked at. When asked how happy they were in their jobs, 71% of remote workers said they were happy, compared to just 55% of office workers.

Having a team that appreciates their work and can get things done for job satisfaction can only have positive outcomes for a business. There are massive benefits in terms of HR, too, which make remote working the mode of the future.

The other side of remote working

Remote work is the clear direction of travel for many businesses, but it’s not without drawbacks. Concerns about fully-remote working include:

  • A lack of company culture – embedding values and ideas across a team is tough when there are few regular touchpoints and offering rewards and recognition requires extra consideration when sending company swag across borders. 
  • Reliance on technology – your remote working tools need to be reliable and able to scale as your business grows with manageable costs.
  • HIdden costs – as well as spending more on conferencing tools and collaboration platforms, bringing your core team together in the early stages when you want to establish relationships is a logistical and financial challenge. 

The power of remote working for international businesses

The business case for remote working is abundantly clear yet a modicum of caution is needed. Lower costs, increased productivity, a wider range of talent, and a highly engaged team all hit the right notes in terms of a modern business environment. 

For any business, local or global, high-tech or traditional manufacturing, remote work can be a viable option. Startups especially need to be considering the remote-first or remote-only model to be able to achieve their growth potential.

Being able to leverage the benefits of a global workforce and offer a method of working that’s both appealing to the workers and cost-effective for business will set long-term foundations for success. 

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