Skip to content
Alight named by Fortune as one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ in 2024

The true cost of global expansion


Global expansion is an enticing prospect for businesses seeking new growth opportunities and international reach. However, beneath the allure of tapping into new markets lies a complex web of costs and risks that can quickly accumulate if not managed effectively. In this blog post, we'll dissect the true cost of global expansion, including aspects like tax and compliance, expatriate expenses, premises costs, training and onboarding. We'll also highlight why Employer of Record (EOR) solutions often emerge as the answer to this financial puzzle.

Tax and compliance challenges

Global expansion often entails navigating a labyrinth of tax systems and compliance regulations in foreign countries. Failing to comply with these regulations can lead to substantial fines and legal complications. The cost of hiring experts to manage these complexities can swiftly accumulate.

Expat expenses

Many organizations also call upon their existing, experienced talent to play a pivotal role in the start-up of a new international region. These experienced employees bring a wealth of knowledge about the company's culture, processes, and operations. While this can be a strategic advantage, it also adds another layer of expat expenses.

It encompasses various costs such as housing, international health insurance, education for expatriate children, language training, and cultural integration programs. These expenses can strain your financial resources and necessitate a carefully planned budget.

Premises costs

One of the most substantial financial challenges when expanding into new regions is the cost associated with establishing a physical presence in a new country. Leasing or purchasing office space incurs ongoing costs like rent, utilities, maintenance, and setup. Beyond the direct expenses, it also ties up capital that might be better invested elsewhere in your expansion efforts.

Training and onboarding

Training and onboarding play a pivotal yet often underestimated role in the overall cost structure of expansion. This investment is all about knowledge transfer and adaptation to ensure that new recruits embrace your organizational values, culture, and operational standards in the local context. Onboarding plays a pivotal role in introducing local hires to your company's mission and values, helping them comprehend their roles within the organization's structure. Effective onboarding minimizes the time it takes for employees to become productive. 

Country specific considerations

Accounting for location specific considerations is an important part of global expansion and is often where an Employer of Record provider can provide the biggest relief.  As an example, consider the attractive market of Brazil. The process of establishing a legal entity or subsidiary in Brazil, such as a Sociedade Limitada (LTDA) or a Filial (Branch), can be quite intricate and time-consuming. It may take several months and requires continuous oversight by a member of the home office to manage the daily intricacies.

Furthermore, Brazil's regulatory landscape is known for its fluidity. Frequent changes in laws and regulations due to economic, political, and social factors mean that what is compliant today may not be tomorrow. Keeping up with these evolving legalities necessitates significant financial and temporal investments but these investments are vital to ensuring a smooth, compliant, and successful global expansion.

Adapting offerings 

Global expansion often hinges on the ability to not just comply with regulations but also to understand and cater to local market nuances and needs. Adapting offerings is essential in this context. It involves a deep appreciation of the cultural, social, and economic factors that influence consumer behaviour in the new market and adjusting your companies offerings accordingly to account for them. This adaptability is a strategic approach to thriving in a foreign market and aligning with the unique demands of each region entered.

Why EOR solutions are the answer

Employer of Record (EOR) solutions provide a practical and cost-effective approach to global expansion. They streamline the hiring process, reducing the reliance on expensive expatriate staff while efficiently handling new and experienced talent. By eliminating the need for in-house or external legal and accounting services, EOR providers offer a cost-efficient solution for both new and experienced employees, ensuring effective budget allocation.

Related reads

Value engineering in human resources

A conversation on demonstrating value with Alight’s SVP of VE, Jas Madan

A guide to HR self-service

The challenge for HR teams in is to engage their workforce while convincing budget holders to invest in a modern self-service HR system.

Utilization management and prior authorization: a sustainable strategy for healthcare costs?

Prior authorization (PA), a technique within the utilization management process, can have a negative impact on patient outcomes.