There’s no magic formula or expert consultant that can guarantee a startup’s success in scaling their business globally. Before landing in your next market take into consideration the following steps and analyze the different tools offered by each country to foreign entrepreneurs. Entering a new market is a long and demanding process. Plan strategically so that your business doesn’t suffer and assign a reasonable budget for this process.
1. Study your new market
Entering a market like the US’ is a long, demanding, and expensive process. First, identify your new target market (location, gender, age, income). Thoroughly analyze your competition; client acquisition channels, price ranges, errors, and the opportunities that these bring; among others. Identify your product/service’s added value and incorporate that into the narrative of your sales pitch, also include success stories and evidence of the traction it has achieved. Prove that your price reflects the quality and authenticity of the product/service in the new market. Nobody sells their product better than the startup’s Founder/CEO, so be sure to plan ahead the time needed abroad.
2. Free yourself from the cultural barriers
Don’t let cultural barriers become another obstacle. Look for a mentor, find articles online, and openly ask your peers about the local business culture. For example, in the US after a meeting with a client it is standard practice to send a thank you email. It’s a way of showing respect and gratitude for the time that person has spent. Not sending a thank you email shows lack of interest and could result in losing a client. Print business cards with updated contact info, and preferably include a local cell phone number. Participate in Meetups and networking events to practise your English and to broaden your contact network. Keep in mind that the best relationships are those where both parts add value, so get to know who you’re talking to and determine how you can help him or her.
3. Learn and unlearn
One of the main obstacles that successful startups face when they arrive at a new market is being open to growth strategies that are different to the ones used in their countries. Keep in mind that your local success is valuable for investors and mentors, but the focus now is new market traction. Highlight your experience and “know how” searching for examples that are suitable for the new market and demography. If your business must pivot to enter the market, be sure to redefine your KPIs so that your narrative is consistent and illustrative.
Scaling globally is without a doubt a necessity for those startups that seek to continue growing. Understanding the new market and its business culture is just the beginning of a large process. It is ideal to take advantage of all the tools (financial and educational) the new market has to offer. For example, Soft Landing programs are an excellent way to land in a foreign market. In addition to workshops and seminars, the accelerators have a network of mentors, alumni, investors, and corporate partners that can make your process more fluid and efficient. Make sure that the accelerator or entrepreneurship centre that offers the program is an influential institution within the startup ecosystem. Analyze the people and startups associated with each institution and identify which is the one that best suits your industry and business.
Camila Torrente works with companies that seek to scale their business and raise capital in the US. She is also an angel investor and a member of the 37 Angels, and has mentored in several accelerator programs in LatAm.