Tech startups, listen up! It’s time to take your business overseas.

Tech startups, listen up! It’s time to take your business overseas.

Global is the new local

Tech startups, listen up! It’s time to take your business overseas.

You’ve jumped over major hurdles. You’ve swam through some rough waters. You have an awesome service or product to offer, a tiny bit of the stability you’ve long craved for. Hello, crazy world of tech startups … you have arrived.

Or have you?

Suddenly, you notice other similar companies racing ahead, from one frontier to the next. What’s happening? Well, in technology driven businesses, you’re either growing or you’re stagnating.

After all, even our little Belgium is not so little in this sphere – in fact, in 2016 alone, tech businesses raised a staggering EUR 320 million (and the number is expected to rise in 2017)! Clearly, the tide doesn’t cease for anyone, and either you learn to surf or you keep gulping.

Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, most tech and software startups soon realize that they need to do more… and going international is the next logical step. Here’s what you need to know before you take the plunge.

Count your blessings

 Here’s some good news for you: while international expansion is inherently tricky, you have an edge over traditional businesses. In fact, in many ways, you’ve been poised to go global since the advent of your business, whether you know it or not. Consider these points:

 

· You typically won’t need to make the same kind of investment as traditional businesses will when it      comes to on-ground work and operational costs before launch.

· As long as your data assessment is spot on when it comes to web-based sales and distribution,       you’ll have a relatively easier time determining which markets to break into.

· You don’t need to rely of heavy physical presence in each country you decide to enter. In general, SaaS businesses and other tech startups aren’t as reliant on location. Yay!

User experience over all else

This doesn’t even need to be said, but I’ll say it again to drill this point home: user experience should be prioritized above all else. Whether your customers are individuals or businesses, the protocol remains the same. Do a nuanced research on your new target market and make sure you give them a hassle-free experience. Double down on the back-end team for a while – if you don’t meet user expectations early on, they’ll move on to something else. Yikes!

Think quick on your feet

The only way to be certain that your product is extremely useful is to make swift adjustments. Don’t expect international users to react the same way as us Belgians. Be quick to address budding problems and solve them head-on.

Pro tip: if you keep things such as design and customer support simple, you’ll encounter fewer issues.

Content means a lot

Effective communication is key. In this increasingly globalized world, Dutch or French (and oftentimes even English) can be a barrier. For this reason, translate your product well. Invest in good translation – simply word-for-word doesn’t suffice. Yes, we know, you’re driven by the power of technology, but don’t make the mistake of underestimating the power of the word!

Start small

Because barriers to entering new markets are a bit lower when you have a digital product, the urge to spread your wings too wide is strong. However, be wary of this urge and don’t thin out your focus. Smaller teams (meaning less investment) can usually carry out effective expansion without sacrificing company character or quality. Use that fast traction in the early phases to master a market before moving onto the next one.

At the end of the day, it’s simple: don’t fear the unknown, be confident of your product, and have some fun. Go forth and conquer!

This country, or that country?

This country, or that country?

Expanding your company abroad

Expanding your company abroad