Date: 3 November 2021
Author: Michael Boevink, Head of Sales – Scale Up Programme, FINTECH Circle
When you have traction in your home market, it makes sense to think about scaling internationally. Think BIG, THINK WORLD DOMINATION with your amazing service.
The service everyone is waiting for… Right or not?
In practice, this is not so easy as it sounds and world domination is the most expensive and high-risk choice you can make. It also often goes wrong.
First, you need to get the basics right and make sure you have traction in your home market, even if you come from a small country. It’s great to show your successes with testimonials as well as you might have an international client who actually can use your service in other countries. A lot of companies grow with their clients and if that brings you to international expansion it is a very cost-efficient way to get there.
Then it is time to start doing the homework, do your market research. Often your service is available in other countries in one form or another. You want to find out what the barrier to entry is and how to compete with local players. This goes far beyond setting up a legal entity, knowing the language and someone on the ground with expertise in your business.
Budget your real costs of travel, training, regulatory and tax, hiring a local representative and burn rate before revenue comes in. Even if you go on a low budget and opportunistically be prepared to lose money, you would otherwise invest into your home country.
Although you have the fundamentals of your business proven in your home country, you can trip over local regulation, longer sales cycles, cultural differences and resources.
A basic checklist to pay attention to:
- Choose the right countries by doing solid research of market size, need and barrier to entry
- Budget wisely and expect setbacks, build in some reserves for that
- Be aware of cultural challenges in all forms from the local customs and traditions towards adapting the way you communicate in your marketing material.
- The distance can be a challenge, although the world goes virtual these days, there are time differences and local touch does count in a lot of countries.
Finally create a competitive advantage with a local representative, who is also wired in the industry with a network and make use of all the available resources as Fintech Hubs. Often countries have special services and networks from the embassy to trading organisations as for example the Department of International Trade UK. Almost every country has government support and they are eager to give you network and support.
All set to go, let’s get that World Domination one step at a time!
Michael Boevink is the Head of Sales of FINTECH Circle Scaleup Programme, helping fintech startups grow internationally. He’s also a fintech expert, consultant and the Co-Author of The PAYTECH Book, published by Wiley.
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