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3 tips for international market success

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Regardless of the timeline for your business, it is essential to plan for the future. Focusing solely on the present without ambitious goals is a recipe for failure. Once a startup is established in the local market, it’s time to move on to international expansion. And for that you need a clear roadmap.

Harvard Business Review’s study The role of business planning in a startup’s success found that founders with an expansion business plan were 16% more likely to become viable than those without a plan. Entrepreneurs who focus on growing startups are 7% more likely to plan with forward-thinking ideas.

More than 60% of scaling up efforts can succeed. This impressive fact attracts investors who are more willing to invest in the projects of founders who understand that real value comes from being able to nurture startups and scale them up globally.

While the internet is full of articles to help you create a business plan, let me share some essential tips on planning international expansion. I came up with them from my experience expanding my business to the Philippines and India. With this knowledge you can grow faster, more efficiently and without financial losses.

Related: 3 steps to successful international expansion

TIP #1. Evaluate Your Expansion Potential

Entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that the biggest challenge in expansion is competition. In reality, only 20% of the startups fail because they are outcompeted.

Our experience has shown that the main opponent in a new market is the external market environment and uncertainty. When planning, you should always count on a worst-case scenario and an unfriendly environment.

Use these three practical exercises to make less optimistic predictions.

Long term planning. As you plan the results and activities for the year, stop and think about how every aspect of your plan may not work. Brainstorm with your team and don’t be afraid to throw ideas away.

For example, we once made a mistake in relying on the speed of hiring sales managers in new markets. We expected it to take 3-4 weeks, but it took longer. We had to consider the time for training, adaptation and the needs of the employees.

Related: How do you know when to hire an international team?

Short term planning. When planning weekly checkpoints or sprints, compare expectations and reality. Don’t chase steep and big goals by setting unrealistic deadlines. The truth would be painful. In short-term planning, the most useful question is, “What are we not doing now? We discuss with our team what we won’t be doing every week, why we’ve postponed it, and what we’re doing instead.

When the plan is done. Once you’ve developed a plan and done a “what could go wrong” exercise, engage outside authoritative experts in a similar practice. Show the completed project to experts and have them challenge it. At our company, we ask our investors to look at our plan and assess the risks. This helps us evaluate our options and helps us avoid wasting money, resources and time.

TIP #2. Understand the patterns of your business

In a startup, teams depend on each other. This has consequences for the performance of the company as a whole. As an londonbusinessblog.com, you need to understand how these connections work. If one element fails, the entire system collapses. For example, a new contract with a partner may be delayed by several weeks because the necessary document was lost during the transition.

We have faced this problem ourselves. An employee of our business development department was out of action for two weeks. Without him we couldn’t get the right contact person for payments and we weren’t able to solve the customer’s problems quickly.

How could this situation have been prevented? Consider team relationships at the planning stage. Discuss who has access to accounts. Plan around employee needs and avoid a situation where something strategically important is left with one employee.

I suggest structuring your database with internal information and adding a business rule for creating essential process manual documents, access guides, passwords and contacts. This protects you from the risk of a total stoppage.

TIP #3: Plan your hire

Hiring people internationally is a critical and challenging process. After all, your performance depends on your workforce, and learning how to find talent thousands of miles away is crucial.

To make the talent search and recruitment process successful, I recommend consulting experts in the global market. Individual advice on request is expensive, but every dollar pays off.

Related: 5 things to remember when hiring international workers

Networking with other founders also works. Ask them about the idiosyncrasies of the local mindset, common mistakes made by foreign hirers, the average salary level and the importance of the HR brand to candidates. Specify the little things – from the candidate’s preferred language to spoken language.

When you get the answers to these questions, be careful about predicting the number of people you will hire over a period of time.

I faced this problem when my company expanded to the Philippines and Indonesia. We didn’t know how to hire salespeople quickly. In the first few months, we made less revenue than we could have done. We soon realized that we hadn’t planned our hiring process as well as we should have.

Good planning is the key to successful expansion and business development. However, over-optimism in planning leads to unnecessary costs and problems. Always anticipate the worst-case scenario, plan your recruiting in as much detail as possible, and give your plan to investors to ensure you’re on the right path to success.

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