As much as we’d like it, starting up in a new country doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of ground work, changes, and mistakes along the way to get up and off the ground. When we first launched finder.com, my co-founder and I worked from a laptop in our house. Fast forward to 2017 and we are now lucky enough to have offices across the globe, from Sydney, Australia – where our headquarters are based – all the way to New York City.
You can research a new country as much as you want, but when you’re actually underway, you need to expect the unexpected. Thankfully, now that I have some experience under my belt, I know what to look out for. Here are my top tips for when you start up in a new country.
Choose your location wisely
It can be challenging finding the perfect location the first time around. As much as I wish it were true, we didn’t stumble upon our office in New York City the first try. In fact, when launching in the U.S. in 2015, our office was initially set up in Santa Monica. However, we soon realized that this location wasn’t optimal and ended up moving across the country to NYC’s heart of business.
You’ve got to be strategic when choosing your location. Ask yourself: Where will you attract the best talent? Where is the perfect balance between affordability and relevance to your business? Take your time when making this decision – think about what the optimum outcome is. Working backwards can really pay off.
Welcome outsourcing with open arms
At finder, we’re a big adopter of the gig economy. We even have a team in our Sydney HQ who manages it on a global scale. In the early stages of launching a startup, it can be difficult to gauge the amount of resources you’ll need. There’s no point draining the bank by paying a lot of full-time staff that are underutilized. This is where outsourcing can be incredibly beneficial.
Aside from being able to hire on a need basis, outsourcing locally and internationally can enable you to reduce your office space, which simultaneously makes it cheaper. If outsourcing outside of your country, comparing money transfer providers is paramount to ensure that your provider really fares best value – this can really impact your spend! There is also an abundance of global freelancing platforms, like Fiverr and Upwork, which take care of the financing for you!
Know your audience and your competition
A major thing I have learnt to consider when operating in a new country is how banking products differ across the globe. For example, is it an auto loan or a car loan? Is it tax or VAT? You need to make sure that your product meets the needs of your audience if it is to be successful. Users need to know what they’re doing and what your product can offer them.
Any successful startup will also have an understanding of key competitors – the ones who succeed, but also the ones who’ve failed. What are other businesses doing right, and most importantly, what have they done wrong? By learning what works and what doesn’t in the market you’re about to enter, you can ensure that your startup will hit the mark.
Slow and steady wins the race
Although it may sound cliché, in the startup circuit, slow and steady often wins the race. While the occasional business might be in the limelight overnight, in reality, it’s a much slower process and can take years to get there – so don’t be deterred from giving it a shot!
When starting out, give it time and network, network, network! Remember, just because you’ve made it in one country, entering another is a whole new ball park. You need to build your reputation and reliability, get to know your audience, set up in a location that will enable you to thrive, and have the backing and support of a team that will take you to the top.