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The world is yours: Six tips for expanding internationally

Monday, 14 December 2015 | By Samuel Pavin

When building a startup in Australia, thinking about international development should be a natural process.


With a population not yet reaching 25 million people, Australia offers a relatively small domestic market but south-east Asia is a close neighbour and the Silicon Valley is only a 10-hour flight away.


Thanks to the internet, doing business beyond national boundaries has become quite easy, allowing you to reach new markets and expand the customer base exponentially.


Reaching out to other countries is now easy, but making sense of the standards, rules or even just language is another story.


Here are five tips, taken from my experience, on how to get started expanding internationally with a solid foundation.


1. Make sure you’re addressing a global problem


In order to go international a startup needs to have a solution that answers an international need.


Fixing problems is the starting line of building a solution but if the product is too niche it may not be one for other markets.


Beyond the product, the business model must be easily adapted to other international markets.


It may come down to the very early stages of the business planning but the model cannot be completely different from one country to another.


2. Start local before global


For any startup ensuring they have a good product is crucial for solid development. Testing and validating the product and business model are a necessary step.


Australia’s domestic market offers a prime spot for product testing and validation before going global. Developing business on a global scale requires resources, financial and human ones, in order to ensure understanding the specifics and start selling straight away.


As soon as the startup’s product and business model have been tested and validated on the domestic market, start planning the development of a new market.


3. Analyse and define your target market

Deciding on what target markets to address begins with data.


Start by analysing and planning in order to define which international markets are the best matches for a product, taking into account various factors like the size, economic growth, consumer behaviours, online behaviours and competition.


Australia naturally moves towards the United States, with similar language, technology adoption and validation, but can also look directly at the Asian markets and beyond.


Look for needs and offer solutions.


4. Keep the budget low


Not every startup raises millions from investors and often international develop is funded via customers and revenue.


Selling in foreign markets can be tricky and take time, so there needs to be a structured approach and patience is required – a new market may mean new needs and requirements including testing and validation.


You can keep the budget low by simply translating the company’s website and communications as well as keeping most of the back office at home, business model permitting.


5. Make the most of the internet and collaboration tools


From the moment you start building business on a global scale, connecting the people and teams, and keeping them all on the same page has to be on the top priorities list.


It has now become quite easy to find tools and collaborate with people all over the world and you can stay in touch and keep track of the activity of teams wherever they are in the world.  And most of these tools are either free or cost a ridiculously low amount of money.


The bottom-line is about testing and deciding on the most effective tools for all.


6. Focus on security


Security is on everybody’s mind, especially when users buy online. Add every layer of security possible and remember to comply with local laws too - there is a balance of security and privacy.


Expanding to international markets follows the same initial path as building and growing a startup - analyse, define, test, validate and follow the plan.


All it takes to get started is a good business plan and the guts to make it happen.


Samuel Pavin is a founder and startup and social media advisor.

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