Here are some proven steps to help you scale your startup globally.
1. Achieve a Good Product-Market Fit
Earlier, we talked about the importance of product-market fit for international scaling and the challenges it poses. This factor can make or break your startup. If you have a fantastic product but no market demand for it, your business is set up for failure.
Conversely, even if you have an average product with enough market demand, your startup will grow. Achieving this fit is essential for scaling. To do so, you must take the following steps:
A. Understand Customer Needs
First, you need to determine and specify the needs of your potential buyers and tailor your offerings to meet them. Those needs must be very important and compelling for them. Targeting those needs will create excellent growth opportunities for you. Take the example of Amazon’s unique product development approach.
It did not first build a product and find the right customers later. Instead, the company worked backward by first identifying the customer’s problems and developing products accordingly. That is why Amazon’s products like the Kindle e-reader, Alexa, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are huge successes today.
B. Understand your Target Market
You must conduct detailed market research and refine and divide it into different segments having similar behavior, desires, and needs. See how many potential customers there are, understand their behavior and ‘buyer personas,’ and strategize your ways to provide and support them effectively.
Hire a good consultant familiar with the local market’s legal rules and regulations, environment, politics, habits, and cultural differences to help you make wise business decisions.
C. Know your Value Proposition
The market is full of many similar products and makers. It is increasingly competitive today. Your product must be market-relevant and innovative for people to choose it. Identify your competitive advantage and lead the market.
D. Specify your minimum viable product (MVP) features
When you launch a new product, it will have certain must-have features. You can’t include all the features in one go. Classify desired features into different buckets like MVP, should-have, and good-to-have. Include important, core functionality features in your product to make it viable for the market before release. You can thus seek validation from your audience before further product iterations.
E. Test your Prototype
Run beta and give free access to your design to your potential users. Observe their interaction with the product and ask them the right questions. By gaining valuable insight and improvement feedback from multiple users, you will be able to improve and refine your product for the market and include additional features.
2. Automate Your Operation
Manual processes can slow down the operation of your startup when you expand, be it the approval cycle, payments, data collection, organization, etc. You need to automate, outsource, or streamline the redundancies to increase your operational efficiency.
For instance, you can automate your HR process by setting up the training processes for new hires, engagement and feedback, bill pay for automatic payments, etc. Choose the most ideal and versatile tools for processes like video conferencing, team communication, file sharing, data management, CRM, etc.
Automating everything in your startup can be a time-consuming and effort-intensive process. But this will help you access and process your data quicker, market better, hire faster, pay easier, and streamline your operations. That helps make your business model scalable, provide insights and improve long-term success rate.
3. Leverage Content Marketing
As per Forbes, direct marketing is usually not scalable, and word-of-mouth does not scale. Content marketing can be an effective strategy to help your startup be visible and scalable. It can help you drive more sales and increase your brand visibility and credibility more easily than traditional marketing.
According to statistics, content marketing costs over 62% less than traditional marketing and generates approximately three times as many leads! Furthermore, over 90% of organizations today prefer marketing with content because of its efficacy.
A. Localize your Marketing
When leveraging content, you must also localize your marketing approach. Because Google is not the only popular search engine in every part of the world. The same applies to social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn as well.
You must leverage the local communication channels to better reach out to your foreign audiences. For instance, Baidu holds over 79.49% of the search engine market share in China, making it more effective than Google in targeting Chinese audiences. You should further localize your content as per the different cultures and languages in the target country.
4.Hire the Right People
While scaling, you must employ more competent and skilled people who are committed to your brand’s goals and aligned toward its success. You must be more judicious in hiring the right people and managing team relationships rather than ‘hire slow fire fast.’ Don’t hire talents to fire them later. Rather, hire the best, so you don’t have to fire them. It is always advantageous to hire local talent, if you can afford, since they would bring the local connects and relationships with both potential customers and partners. That could provide the crucial initial thrust that is required for your entity which is trying to gain a foothold in a new market.
Continuing Amazon’s example, the brand hired and retained C-suite talents from its previously acquired companies. After acquiring ‘Junglee’ in 1998, Bezos retained Mike George, one of Junglee’s employees, who went on to lead Amazon’s Marketplace, Alexa, Echo, and Appstore!
5.Leverage the Local Network
Nothing works better than references and introductions to key prospects from your first level contacts who are locally present in that region. Your local contacts also bring the advantage of knowing what works with certain industries and the dynamics of the ecosystem. Once the initial contact is established you can build further on the credibility and the trust which are so crucial for someone to engage with a new entity that is entering the market. Do not spread yourself too thin during the initial period of entry where you and your company would have limited resources for the region. Work with a handful of contacts so that you can make the first good impression.
6.Focus on Customer Retention
When you’re starting up, you automatically focus on acquiring customers. But when scaling up, your focus should be on retention. When you grow as an international company, keep an eye on when your customers need support from you and what people say about your brand. This will help you know when and how to provide them better.
You must keep track of all the customer interactions and the latest market trends and information. Having great customer support offers your customers a reason to return and builds their loyalty. This, in turn, helps you build a predictable revenue engine.
7.Manage your Finances, and if Required, Raise Capital
Over 82% of businesses fail because of poor cash flow management! The severe consequences of financial ignorance will only multiply in international transactions. Managing overseas financing, extra operational costs, and ensuring efficient international payments are common issues.
Raising funds for your startup is a quick and effective way to diversify your product strengths, attract the best talent, and boost your marketing and sales. You can raise capital from your family members and friends, take credit cards or bank loans, or reach out to angel investors to invest in your growth.
Hence, before asking for funds, conduct your research and learn the fundamentals of financial management. See how much capital your startup really needs and how you plan to utilize the capital effectively.
Now that you know the importance of scaling your startup and the proven steps to achieve a global presence, you must also know what to avoid doing. Stay tuned to read the next article in our series “Scaling Internationally” and discover the common mistakes to avoid while scaling.
To further understand the fundamental steps for international scaling and go global with your startup, get in touch with the best business consulting service today!
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