Here are six useful resources for BAM practitioners seeking legal or tax advice.
Tax and Legal Professionals
Professional tax accountants or lawyers can be necessary for some legal processes and specialist advice. Getting good advice and guidance through important business processes can save weeks or months of work. Some legal firms locally may specialise in business registration services. Likewise for accountancy firms that specialise in tax requirements for foreign owned businesses, for instance. Ask in your network for recommendations for reliable accountants or lawyers. See our ‘BAM Guide to Finding Good Legal and Tax Advice’ for further recommendations.
Government Business Advice
Many governments provide local business advice bureaus or guides to doing business in their country. These bureaus may offer handbooks or guides, copies of legal code for businesses, generic forms or standard documents for adaptation, and business advisors. Look up what may be available to you in-country. Some BAMers have reported that approaching local government officials for advice has resulting in them building friendly working relationships with local government departments.
Alternatively the government of your home country can also be a great resource for doing business overseas. For instance, the UK Government Department of Trade and Investment (UKTI) has a network of specialists in over 100 offices around the world, and has published a similar number of guides for exporting to and doing business in those different countries. These guides include an overview of challenges and opportunities for doing business in each country, legal considerations, tax and custom considerations and links to other useful documents and resources specific to that country.
There are often business consultancies set up in a location that specialise in helping other businesses get set up and registered in that country. Because business laws and tax rules will be specific to each jurisdiction, it is important to get country-specific advice. Ask around locally to find consulting companies that offer the services you need. Some consultancies such as Business4Blessing and IBEC Ventures can offer consultancy to BAM company owners looking for legal help. Business4Blessing is building a dossier of legal advice for different countries, particularly in Asia.
Many larger cities will have local Chambers of Commerce, Chapters of Business or Professional Associations or other similar business networks that offer resources. Some cities even have BAM networks to connect with.These networks and associations can be great sources of formal and informal advice. Chambers of Commerce or similar bodies will usually offer a library of materials and standard documents/forms that can be adapted by companies.
Governments can be a good source of business reports, as mentioned above. However, international groups and NGOs also regularly publish reports to help guide business owners. The Doing Business Reports published each year by the World Bank list the steps required for setting up a business in every country of the world, and rank countries by how easy it is to start and run a company there. From the Doing Business website:
The Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 189 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level. Launched in 2002, it looks at domestic small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle.
Consultancy firms and business often offer free reports, guides or online resources to attract potential clients. Large corporations, NGOs, Think Tanks, or Institutions also sponsor research and report writing focused on particular industries, regions or countries and these are usually free to download on the internet – search for the areas specific to your interests.
It goes without saying that people in your business network can be a valuable source of advice. Fellow business people, whether they are other BAM practitioners, local business people or those in your home network, can often be the first port of call for helpful input. Go to other business people for recommendations when you need to hire consultants, lawyers or accountants. They can point you towards other sources of help, training, books, reports etc. that are available locally or internationally. You might consider setting up an Advisory Board for your company and include seasoned business people, lawyers or accountants in the group.
These are 6 Resources for Legal and Tax advice that we have found helpful. We would love to hear from you if you have other resources to suggest.
by David Skews and Jo Plummer
David Skews, LLB is a businessperson called to mission. David obtained his law degree in 1981 and worked in the area of Health and Safety for over 20 years. In 1989, he established EDP Health Safety & Environment Consultants Ltd performing the role of CEO as he led EDP through sustained growth for over 25 years in both the UK and Asia. In 2004 he fully engaged in business as mission, as well as continuing to lead his business. Since then, David has focused his efforts into training entrepreneurs in Asia and Africa, and speaking internationally on business for good. He has also helped lead a mission agency through the process of embracing missional business. Today, he acts as a non-exec director for six successful BAM businesses and is part of the Advisory Board for BAM Global. David transitioned out of his business in 2015 and into new BAM fields! David is married to Lesley and is based in the UK.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.