How to take your Startup Global
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The startup scene around the world resonates, "survival of the fittest". In this mad rush where new businesses are launched every day, the success rate is relatively meager. The process of building a successful company is initiated by building an idea which then translates to building a company. The next logical step for any business that wants to make it big is to go global. Aided by the advanced technologies that keep people connected throughout the world 24/7 makes this a much easier process than what it was a few years back.
Taking a startup from a local pedestal and making it global is no ordinary task. The process not only involves expansion in the geographic sense but also expansion in terms of IT and global customer base. To make this leap, business skills of the highest order are required. But there certainly are a few do's and don'ts which can make this uphill task relatively easier.
'When in Rome, do as the Romans do' personifies best when a startup is going global. Before opening shop in a foreign land, it is important to understand the different clients, community and their culture.
To succeed on the global scale, you must understand the markets in the global context. Comprehend the nature of emerging markets you wish to enter. Fathom the opportunities and also the pitfalls for any particular economy so as to allocate your resources and your actions towards those building positives.
An understanding of emerging markets in the respective economy is also necessary. This is not only in terms of overall IT trends of the region, but the innovations that have come out of there, as well as the social and cultural aspects that they function on.
Compliance and regulations are other conspicuous factors that must be kept in mind by an entrepreneur before entering a new country. Compliance is of prime concern in the western world but it is gaining more momentum in the eastern world gradually. Irrespective of the sector you are in, adhering to regulations and compliance ensures more opportunities and multiple chances for innovation, especially in the tech space.
To enter an unknown territory and setup a company can be a daunting journey if you do not have the right partners. As an entrepreneur you will require partners to sell your products so identify potential partners, original equipment manufacturers who you can team up with to enter these markets. The presence of local sources will help you establish base and capitalize on their network.
Startups going global must also identify the best business model to suit their needs as the same model may not work in every country. An entrepreneur should micro-manage his business in all areas and not leave any area unattended as a founder.
The right investor is also of prime importance while going global. Several sources may have money but they may not share a common vision. One must look for an investor who is on the same page as the entrepreneur to avoid trouble in the future.
An entrepreneur must be able to think beyond the ordinary. Radical thinking, not only in terms of technology but also pertaining to how you do things provides an edge while going global.
Another fact that an entrepreneur cannot look past is 'going social'. A social networking site is the best way to connect the dots. Customers are living their life on these sites and every business must positively go social. In today’s world it is not a wise decision to keep your personal and professional lives separate. While focusing on social, an entrepreneur must take heed of security concerns as well because if you are on the internet you are not private.
Technological developments have made it easier for entrepreneurs to cash in on trends like, BYOD, mobile and cloud computing.
Apart from operational innovations one must also focus on customer intimacy. A company must be closely aligned to their customer’s needs, engage with them constantly, and build your intellectual property accordingly. Engage your customers by highlighting your differentiators.
Corporate social responsibility also gives to a company an opportunity to engage with the community they are working in. An entrepreneur should look for opportunities to sell to governments and federal organizations too as they can be big influencers. As an entrepreneur with CSR you not only build value but also help those who really need the help.
Taking a startup global is a 'herculean feat' and it can be achieved only by extraordinary people, so hiring the best talent is of utmost importance. Focus on getting the best people who understand the vision of the company.
All said and done, an entrepreneur must always 'dream big'. Taking a startup to a global platform will always be an uphill task, but never lose hope. Always remember that the toughest fights bear the sweetest fruits.
(The article is based on Tarkan Maner’s session on 'how Startups can go Global' during the NASSCOM Product Conclave 2012.)