Working in a local market isn’t always enough for a startup. While there are a lot of opportunities to seize in local markets, the biggest opportunity can be found in the fact that the world is converging into one global market. Not considering going global as a startup in today’s market is certainly a mistake you cannot afford to make.
However, going global is not without its challenges. You cannot expect to cater to international customers without covering some basics and laying the necessary foundations first. That is why in this article, we are going to review the most important basics to cover before going global as a startup. Let’s get started, shall we?
A Global Mindset
Do you know why startups from relatively smaller markets like Ireland are often the first ones to operate globally? There is a simple reason behind this: they have to think globally from the start. When the local market presents only a limited number of opportunities, catering to global customers becomes a need rather than an option.
This forces startup owners to see the world as a global market from the start; it forces them to have a global mindset, where operations don’t need to be tied to a specific location. That global mindset is the first stepping stone to your expansion into new markets. You have to be willing to accept multinational operations as the norm.
With a global mindset, choosing where (and how) to operate becomes an objective decision. Moving production to countries like China and Vietnam, for instance, can be seen as a logical decision to lower COGS. Yes, you lose the ability to take pride in producing your products in your home country, but global customers aren’t really affected by the notion.
Next, you need internal workflows that can withstand the stress of operating globally. Even when you have a relatively simple set of processes, catering to international customers adds complexity to your operation. Basics such as communications, project management, and resource planning must be designed to survive such complexity.
Getting workflows and procedures right from the start is how you overcome this challenge. For example, you can adopt Agile project management across the organization to make sure that tasks – even the smallest ones – are handled properly. You can utilize Kanbanize, a leading agile project management tool, to simplify the process further.
Kanbanize also allows teams and team members to work together and communicate on a single platform. Once again, this removes unnecessary complexities from your workflows. The result is an organization that has the ability to stay lean and effective, even when catering to the global market. You instantly avoid potential bottlenecks and issues in the future.
Build a Network
As mentioned before, operating globally means taking advantage of global opportunities at every turn. To be able to do that, you need a strong network supporting your startup expansion. Fortunately, you no longer have to build that network on your own. There are established networks that you can tap into in order to get your startup global in a shorter period of time.
When trying to tackle product distribution, you can work with a distribution partner whose network is more established. This way, you immediately have access to hubs like Singapore and Dubai without establishing offices there. The same is true for when you are working with manufacturers in different parts of the world.
The only network you need to build on your own is a support network for your customers, but even that is easy to do with the help of third-party services. As long as you can deliver a positive user experience and guarantee customer satisfaction, nothing should stop you from expanding to new markets and catering to a wider customer base.
Know the Regulations
One important foundation you cannot afford to ignore is regulation; more specifically, your understanding of local and global trade regulations. You are still bound by the laws of your home country, so be sure to take the time to understand them fully. You are also bound by local rules of markets you want to penetrate.
Similar to workflows, regulations in different markets add a degree of complexity to your operations. Don’t let the added complexity scare you from going global though. You have all the resources you need to comply with local regulations and market your products to new customers around the world now that there are resource centers and service providers to utilize.
Some regulations are even designed to benefit global startups. For example, setting up a representative office in some Asian countries allow you to bypass complex regulations related to taxes, product standards, and business operations in general. Understanding these regulations gives you the ability to leverage them more effectively.
A Bigger Talent Pool
Last but certainly not least, you want to make sure that you have the talent to support global expansion. When you are marketing your products to international customers, a strong team capable of handling those international customers is a must. Thankfully, you also have a global talent pool to tap into.
Lay the foundation for remote working and online collaborations so that you are not limited to local talent when hiring. Tools like the aforementioned Kanbanize and business solutions running in the cloud certainly make setting up a global operation easier. Without the limits of country borders, you also have better chances of recruiting high-quality talents while keeping your overhead in check.
As you start opening representative offices in new markets, focus on hiring local talent as much as possible. Local team members have insights and experience that you can benefit from, so they are indeed more valuable to the company. You can learn more about local customers and be specific with how you cater to their needs with the help of local wisdom.
These five elements are the foundations of a successful global expansion for startups. There is a need to stay lean and efficient, but that shouldn’t stop you from tapping into the global market for new opportunities. Plan well, utilize the tips we covered in this article, and begin your global expansion today.