At a time when unicorns are so common you could mistake them for regular horses, it’s easy to feel like if you aren’t going global then you’re not trying hard enough. The reality of what happens after that initial light bulb moment can have a significant impact on the success and survival, of your business. While no two businesses are the same, there are a set of consistent principles that serve those who do scale rapidly, very well.
For some, the market opportunity in Australia is enough to leave them content. For others, their product or service represents a global opportunity worth exploring. Here are a few important areas to focus on as you get started:
1. Take yourself out of “Product” mode
Critically assess the way your business functions. Now is a good time to consider whether your operating model is ready to handle increased demand, time zone and language changes or the regulatory reality of new countries (just to name a few). As you scale you’ll start to appreciate how important it is to focus on replicating the same thing in every market you enter. This will be an important enabler of rapid growth.
- Consider: What resources do you need? (People/infrastructure/other).
- Identify: When you will need capital, and how much? Then double that figure, at least – you have probably underestimated.
- Understand: The numbers. Don’t be afraid to build a budget or forecast because you’re terrified you’ll miss a target. Focus on profitability and the “why” behind the result. Understanding the levers you can pull at any time will help you make informed decisions along the way.
- Hire wisely: People will always be critical to the success of your business. Hire those who align to your values and look after them once they are onboard.
2. Set up an Advisory Board
Find people interested in solving your problem. They should not need to be paid to help you – if someone wants money, be sceptical. Aligning the long-term success of your business to equity earned over time, or at milestones supports an alignment of efforts in the same direction.
Pay for advice you need. Sometimes an expert IS necessary (You’re pretty talented but let’s face it, international tax and contract law is best left to the people who specialise in it.)
3. Identify target markets where opportunity to launch your product exists
Understand cultural nuances: Ensure you understand the market(s) you are entering. It helps if you have staff with strong ties to the culture, but the best way to truly appreciate it is to physically be present and learn.
Don’t let inbound leads blind you to other opportunities. Remain strategic about the way you choose to spend the most important resource – your time. Responding to the loudest customer may blind you to opportunities elsewhere.
4. Design your GTM (go-to-market) strategy
Be creative: Identify non-traditional channels to market that involved less admin/cost to set up and test.
- Example 1: Trial your product through resellers or partners on the ground rather than setting up an office immediately.
- Example 2: If unsure of consumer reaction to your branding, put two different products on a supermarket shelf and watch to see which one customers reach out for. (Much cheaper than a market research firm!)
Enter new markets deliberately: A typical growth plan involves moving from the country of origin, to a city in another country, to multiple cities in that country, then on to the next one (and so forth). Domestic > International > Multinational > Global
Patent / Trademark: Protect your IP where possible. At the very least protect your brand. And remember: It is just as expensive and time consuming to enter a small market as it is to enter a big one. So go BIG!
5. Seek support and leverage skills and funding available to you
P2P (peer-to-peer) learning is a fantastic way to absorb wisdom from someone who just did whatever you are about to do. A person who has been through the journey you are embarking on will likely be open and supportive. In the Aussie community, many entrepreneurs are happy to share the benefit of hindsight with the next generation of leaders.
Leverage Government resources (both domestic and international). There are some great advocates who are ready to make introductions internationally and support your office expansion in the Australian Government. If you don’t know who they are I recommend you start with your State Government representatives in the Trade Department, or your local Chamber of Commerce.
Investors. Your investors already believe in your business, and if you’ve chosen them deliberately, it’s likely they will also open doors. Leverage these relationships for mutual benefit and everyone wins!
Advisors (these don’t necessarily have to be formal relationships). Speak to those people you trust, and respect those who happen to play the role of the “truth bomb”. It might sting but constructive and critical feedback is invaluable.
Ultimately, only you know what success looks like for your business. Define it for yourself up front and work backward from there.
To find out more about how Timelio can assist with your plans for world domination, don’t hesitate to get in touch.