Christian Lanng, CEO, Tradeshift
While running a small business is already a massive undertaking, the need to think globally from the start is vital if you want your company to grow to its utmost potential. The barriers that held companies back from going global – like worldwide communication and slow logistical processes – have been all but eliminated due to technological advances, making it easier than ever for a company to adopt a global mentality from their inception.
There are significant financial benefits when it comes to going global. For example, expanding your product or service globally can help developing countries grow their economy with the introduction of new jobs and sales. There is a snowball effect when expanding your company internationally too – the more countries your company is in, the more potential customers you have. By growing your infrastructure, your company follows.
The act of globalisation is an extremely competitive strategy as well. If you are somewhere your competitors aren’t, that is a major business advantage. Simply put, if you want your company to grow, you need to consider globalisation as a realistic opportunity.
Whether or not a company launches as global is irrelevant. The key here is that companies should think globally from the beginning to minimise hardships once they are ready to take their business beyond their country’s borders.
Here are a few ways to start thinking global at a company of any size:
Research early and often. Regardless of whether your company started today or 10 years ago, following what is happening in your space throughout the global landscape is critical. Even if you don’t see the worldwide companies within your space as competitors right now, it is beneficial to see what they are doing in another country and how it differs from your company’s strategy. Understanding your space on a global scale from the beginning will help you make smarter decisions when you do go global, such as choosing the right time for your expansion.
Don’t just copy and paste: What drives the markets and drives business is very different from one country to another. While travelling around Asia, it didn’t take me long to understand why some companies, some very large, well-known companies for that matter, have tried and failed to establish themselves in the region. See, you cannot simply cut & paste a successful American business model and place it in another country. There is so much more to it than that. You have to understand the individual needs of each market, those participating in it and what they are looking to achieve.
Hire internationally: Startups have some of the most diverse workforces in business and you should implement the same hiring techniques when you begin your entrepreneurial journey. Not only will having an internationally diverse staff give you a different perspective when developing and marketing your product or service but having internal knowledge of different countries and cultures will provide you with an advantage in today’s global economy. At Tradeshift, we now have individuals from over 30 different countries.
Head to the cloud: While your company will benefit in many ways by switching to the cloud for your data and IT infrastructure, it is necessary for the potential globalisation of your company. When it comes time to go global, there will be very fewer logistical hurdles in the expansion, as your data is already stored in the cloud and is accessible to anyone, anywhere. This will save your company time and money in the long-run.
Go mobile: The march towards mobile is never-ending, and it is imperative that your company has a mobile strategy both internally (for ease of workflow) and externally. Every company has to have a solid mobile element if they expect to still be relevant in five years. Without it, companies isolate the one billion people that use mobile as a primary internet access point. If your company cannot reach a 1/7 of the world’s population, there will be serious hurdles to cross when going global.
And we’re practicing what we preach. From day one, Tradeshift has been a global company: we believe that building an internationally diverse team that’s able to solve global business issues is a key driver of success. I’ve spent the past month traveling the globe in what has proven to be one of the most exciting episodes in Tradeshift’s history. Last month, we were excited to announce several milestones that will help deliver the platform to even more global enterprises and their supply chains – new offices in London, Germany, France and Japan.