International Expansion of Startups

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( — April 15, 2016) — Many startups that have gained widespread recognition in recent years have been based in the United States. Cultural centers like New York City, Boston, and Silicon Valley are hotbeds for new companies based around fresh ideas. The natural progression for a nationally successful company is expansion into international markets. Poorly executed, this step could ruin the future of the business. However, if it is handled well, the transition from local startup to global company can be the gateway to enduring prosperity.

Going Global

Previously, global expansion was one of the later steps in the business developmental process. However, recent data suggests that the growing trend is for startups to establish their international presence far earlier in the game. The most widely proposed theory for what lies behind this change is that international markets have voracious appetites for emerging technologies, and that these technologies are capable of neutralizing cultural differences in revolutionary ways.

What this means is that tech startups do not need to rely solely upon their fellow countrymen and women to be the consumers of their products. Instead, many businesses have chosen to market to the people who will most quickly adopt their products, no matter where in the world they live. Because this realization is spreading across the market, a number of startups have begun to eagerly compete for space on an international scale.

Market Education

Making the decision to go global is only the first step in a lengthy process. From the logistics of international relocation to the hurdles of bridging cultural gaps, there are significant challenges that must be met. Before they can even begin to take those steps, however, company executives should refresh their knowledge of international business dealings, which require some different considerations than those that are solely domestic.
There are a number of online resources through which executives can deepen their preexisting knowledge about international finance. For example, foreign investment expert and legal consultant Shahram Shirkhani publishes online presentations in which he outlines landmark international business case studies. Viewers can use these presentations to solidify their grasp of concepts such as arbitration, as well as the roles that these concepts play in business development and expansion. Having a wide knowledge base of business principles as well as an understanding of how some of these principles have played out historically is an instrumental factor in making informed decisions.

Location Choices

There are several additional steps that companies must take in order to proceed with international expansion. The most obvious step is deciding what country would be best suited for establishing new offices. Startup owners should consider what cultural and language barriers they might encounter, what rules and regulations might be helps or hindrances, and how and with whom they will staff their new facilities. If possible, this work should be executed under the guidance of an investment group from the target country that facilitates commercial activities for incoming international businesses.

Making the Leap 

As with any relocation or expansion, going global requires additional money. It is important for business owners to be realistic about their expenses at this stage, and to budget for the unexpected issues that are guaranteed to arise during it. Once the physical transition is complete, engaging in the transition of the company culture is critical. It is important to find ways to give all employees a shared thread of priorities. This helps everyone in the company stay connected across the globe, and it keeps morale elevated during what is often an emotionally and physically taxing time.