3 Key Success Factors For International Expansion

Hiring, avoiding the cookie-cutter approach, and finding your first clients! Expert advice from Hugo.
Hugo Bieber
April 22, 2021

Expanding your company internationally into a new country and a distinct market present significant challenges. Not all companies make a success of it, adding extra pressure on you to get it right for yours. If you could go behind the scenes of the companies that did get it right, what would you want to know? 

How did they source and hire the best talent? Did they just replicate their marketing, hiring and operational strategies into their new market? How did they acquire their target customers and clients so quickly? 

While there is no miraculous one-size-fits-all formula to successful international expansion, there are three key factors that will put you in an advantageous position when entering your company into new markets: 

  • Hiring locally. 
  • Saying no to the cookie-cutter approach. 
  • Getting ahead with customers/clients. 

The secrets we share with you in this article will ensure you avoid some of the most frequent pitfalls other companies have fallen into when landing in foreign territory. 

1. Your new mantra: Hire local, hire well.

What you’re looking for are senior individuals in the target market, who come with strong local relationships and credibility. This enables doors to be opened quicker and market entry will be accelerated. We typically see these individuals then build a local, high-performing team underneath them. 

Do not make the common mistake of relocating your senior team members to open new markets. You won’t gain the local networks or market insights, leading to an unsuccessful launch with a stop-start expansion into the new market, with all the reputational risks this entails.

2. Reasons not to go with the cookie-cutter approach

What works in Australia, will probably not work in the UK. Sure, it’s simpler just to replicate the same business plan, but tech companies expanding anywhere internationally should not use a one-size-fits-all approach to embedding in a new country. Commonality of language can be confused with commonality of culture, and management teams should be prescient of this.

It’s critical on an operational level that companies do their groundwork before expanding or it can undermine the whole purpose of the business. If you copy / paste your marketing strategy from one country and apply it to another, local nuances will be missed, budgets potentially mis-directed, you could easily be missing a trick with regards to your new target audiences.  

When it comes to your sales techniques and expectations suiting the local market, know that decision times will often vary hugely between countries and cultures, along with different processes of stakeholder management. So, flexibility and foresight into different market styles is paramount for the parent company.

Don’t forget or neglect the regulatory elements. For example, companies expanding into the UK and European Union need to ensure compliance with regulations, such as GDPR. Whether your existing systems need tweaking or not, it’s just good practice to check. 

3. Sign up 5-10 clients before announcing market entry.

Starting from scratch in a new market is tough, even if you have a strong team and great local knowledge. One of the best kept secrets to international expansion is to sign up your first few clients ahead of an official / public launch. This provides momentum for the local team to accelerate their efforts post-launch.

One of the inherent benefits of the tech sector is that you don't need to be on the ground to start pitching to clients, begin your marketing, and present your product.

Having clients signed up before entering the market is extremely feasible and a company's track record can easily be seen from abroad. Getting pivotal local players on board from your target market before publicly announcing market entry will help inexorably with market penetration once the company is set up in the country.

Our two tried and tested ways to get clients ahead of expansion: 

  • Use the existing salesforce to arrange remote meetings, something that is far more acceptable in the COVID era.  
  • Engage with a partner who has deep relationships with key ecosystem participants in the new market, in order to leverage the partner’s network to gain market traction.

Now, you just need to build solid foundations.

Tech companies are in a privileged position when it comes to overseas expansion. There are often fewer barriers to entry and they don’t usually rely upon traditional or cumbersome supply chains. But, they’re not exempt from making basic errors when expanding and adjusting into a new country and market. 

By adopting these suggestions – hiring quality, local talent; adapting to the local market and customs, and getting clients signed up before announcing market entry – you and your company can have a solid set of foundations from which to build a successful business and expand internationally.

As a team, we’ve collectively seen hundreds of companies expand internationally over the years; from Israel to the UK or the UK to Australia and beyond. Please do get in touch if you’d like further advice or would like to chat to one of the team about your expansion. 

Hugo Bieber

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