Taking Your Business From Local To International
Globalisation does not just mean being able to get a Big Mac anywhere in the world. In the business sense it can also mean running a company that is truly successful and connected across different markets.
Having founded ByBox back in 2000, and having founded a number of other start-ups before that, I’ve certainly experienced the highs and lows that most entrepreneurs go through. The most important thing to remember is that a successful, global business doesn’t come together over night; like anything worth achieving, you have to be prepared to put in the hard graft.
It’s also important to remember that building a global business will never be short of challenges to overcome and difficult questions to answer. Which international markets offer real demand for my business proposition? What are the real financial costs of expansion? And what are the logistics of setting up abroad?
These are just a few of the things that small business owners need to consider when planning for expansion overseas, and here are my tops tips to help you get started.
1. Make sure you have a strong presence in your domestic market before looking elsewhere. This is partly common sense but also because your core team will be stretched more than you realise when you go overseas, so you need to be leaping off a solid platform to start with.
2. Recruit local leaders. Running the business from HQ UK is a bad idea for all the obvious reasons.
3. Do not sleepwalk into assuming the business problem that you are solving is the same in every territory. It may well not be. Take time to really understand whether customers care as much about your amazing capability in the new territory as they do in the UK. Understanding even a small and subtle difference could be the difference between success and failure.
4. Try to acquire a local business to expand from rather than going from a standing-start in a brand new territory. This might appear expensive initially but could save you a fortune in time and mistakes in the medium term.
5. Make sure you really understand the local tax regime from the very beginning and structure your billing correctly from the off. This might sound obvious but you will be amazed how many times this has caught people out (including me).
Last but not least – don’t forget to enjoy it. Growth is brilliant and the day you start exporting your ideas abroad is a tremendous day for UK plc. So make sure you take your team on the emotional journey with you. After all, there is nothing more motivating than success, and growth is a key component of success.
Stuart Miller is the CEO and co-founder of ByBox. Since starting the company in 2000 Stuart has grown ByBox into a £73 million business.