Don’t Be in the Dark If You’re Among the Startups Expanding Internationally
Startups are expanding internationally on a regular basis, but of those who choose to take the leap, how many land on two feet? Rather than take a chance on the company you built with blood, sweat, and tears, why not take a step back to make sure you’re ready first?
1. If Your Plan is to Expand to Another Country, Prepare for that From Day 1
Most business owners have grand plans for their business when it becomes a viable competitor in the local market. Long-term visions are part of finding success. If international expansion is something you’re considering down the road, you should be working it into your plans today. Know your product or service and where it would be most in demand. Be a step ahead.
Find a market with international goals and start there. But only enter one international market at a time. You only get one chance to make a first impression and that one opportunity can make or break your entire plan, even if you’re a top three player.
Another strategic method to select your new market would be to find a locale that supports your company’s core values, as mentioned in this Forbes article by Ajay Yadav, CEO of Roomi. If a particular city’s workers are known for exceptional customer service or quality manufacturing, then you have a starting point.
Strategy is the name of the game when choosing a new market, so make sure to do your due diligence when deciding on global expansion. Do you have contacts there? Is there sufficient local talent? Is the market saturated or is it open for new companies?
2. Start Slow and Build Slowly
While being the first in a new market is ideal, it’s better to have a solid plan in place than to go in unprepared. Creator recommends that you take baby steps. These countries did not pop up out of the blue all of a sudden. They will be there when you are prepared and ready to excel in the new market.
You do not need to have a full team ready to go on day one. Chances are when you first opened your doors, you did not have all the staff you do now. But you made it work and hired additional employees as needed when your company began to grow.
You can begin with temps and contractors while you find the right permanent staff to train and run your business. Take advantage of social media campaigns, SEO, and PR to launch your new market. Take your time to see what skills this new market values and then hire the right team to run it for you.
3. Do Your Due Diligence and Remember ROI
It takes more than a clever social media campaign and speaking the language to have a successful launch in international markets. To succeed, you have to do your homework and understand the landscape. What social media platform is king? Find out the unwritten laws that govern the area to avoid surprises.
Look at companies that have been successful in this market and learn from them. What worked? What didn’t? Are there any patterns? Learn from those that came before you to avoid repeating their past mistakes. Also look for markets that represent the lowest risk if this is your startup’s first venture in international expansion.
ROI is important when planning global expansion. If you have a successful launch in a market with the same language but a different dialect, next time focus on a market that will offer a higher potential return. If you are the first to break into an untapped market, it’s up to you to set the price, expectations for service and the business model.
4. Be Present and be Involved
While it’s entirely true that you cannot run all aspects of your business in your local market and abroad every day, it’s vital to the success of your business that you stay involved. This does not mean hovering over every decision that is made. Your team is in place because you trust them to take care of business.
What you should do is stay apprised of things that may affect the business overall. Take the time to visit your international location whenever possible to show the local market that you are involved and aware. Give your teams face time and help them learn from their mistakes and celebrate their wins.
Just as important as it is to be involved is to know when to let go. Let your team know you trust them enough to hand over the reins of the day to day business. Be available should they need guidance. The movers and shakers in this new market will see that your team is competent and their confidence in your business will grow.