Dos and don’ts when scaling to a new country

If you are in a position to start looking at countries you could scale into, that’s great. Things are obviously going well. But, having success in your home country doesn’t guarantee success in a new territory. At home, you have your network, your customers, you understand the market but in a foreign country you won’t have this to rely on. Building a network, finding customers and gaining an understanding of the market will all be fresh challenges. You will have lots to learn but with our list of dos and don’ts, you can avoid making mistakes that some other companies didn’t foresee.

What you definitely SHOULD do

Do make sure you’re ready

It would be best if you have a solid commercial reason for expanding rather than be bowing to the impatient wishes of a venture capitalist. If you’re not ready or ill-prepared, success is going to be harder to come by. 

Do research your market

This is not limited to just scoping out your competition, you’ll also need to know if there are any social, political or legislative factors that could affect your market entry.

Do keep control of your finances

All too often, a company’s budgeting is far too optimistic and scaleups tend to run out of funds during the market penetration. A far more prudent approach is to limit your exposure to risk until you are more firmly established.

Do stick to the rules

Do beware of unfamiliar laws. Some countries have laws regarding foreign ownership or the redistribution of profits overseas. Get sound legal advice wherever possible.

Do respect the local business nuances

Different countries may not have the same approach to business as you do in your home country. While you’ll want to retain your company’s culture, you may have to make some adjustment to reflect the realities of doing business in another country. 

What you definitely SHOULD NOT do

Don’t try to do it alone

When scaling to a new territory it would be extremely helpful to have a local liaison officer. They will know how the market works, how to register your business properly and may also be able to work as an introducer or interpreter.   

Don’t ignore free government help

Governments around the world are offering free help and assistance to homegrown start-ups and scaleups entering the country. Take advantage of anything that is on offer before investing your own money. 

Don’t assume your intellectual property is protected

Trademarks, patents and intellectual property may not be protected in the country you’re moving to. You may need to redo certain arrangements. Also, make sure you know how to enforce the law if a violation occurs.

Don’t just do what you did the last time

When you started in your home country, it was a different environment and a different set of circumstances. So, don’t assume that what worked at home will work here. You need to take stock of the market realities and adapt to them. 

Don’t forget about the universities

If you’re going to build a local team, then the universities are the perfect place to find local talent. You can offer internships and every year, hire the brightest and the best from the annual outflux of new graduates. 

Lastly, we have offices in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas. Our teams speak the local language, understand the local culture and business nuances and are in touch with the contacts that you need for your domain. If you’d like to see how we could help you become established in a new territory at a fraction of the cost of setting up on your own, get in touch. We’re always happy to jump on a call. 

Topics: Strategy