What are the challenges startups usually face

START-UP internationalization: 5 STEPS TO SUCCESS

Fri. 03/06/2015, 2:30 p.m.

Building a start-up is a challenge. Even more so when a young company decides not only to conquer the domestic market, but also to operate internationally. For a long time, the successful step into the wide world was reserved for large corporations only. Such a project was time-consuming and associated with a lot of costs and effort. Today more and more young companies want to open up international markets, which is a logical conclusion in a globalized world that can be used by new technologies. Going global is sexy - and with the right mix of skills, it can also be done.

More and more young companies want to operate internationally.

The right market for the right product
In general, founders are still often recommended that they should first take a stable position in the domestic market instead of immediately striving for internationalization. However, this is a recommendation that is not necessarily true. It was originally aimed at start-ups in the USA that usually started out with the American market and mostly focused on it for several years. From this perspective, this makes sense because it is many times larger than the national markets in Europe. But why should a young German company limit itself to the German-speaking area? If the most important requirement is met, that a good product is offered with added value for the customer, then this product is certainly also attractive for customers in France, the USA, Russia or China. So founders should look for the right market for their product.
So what does it take to be successful? What is the best way to position yourself? The answer to these questions is probably not surprising: in addition to the international attitude, it is above all the basic skills that have to be right.
1. Born Global Start-ups: With an entrepreneurial spirit, openness and the right team
Anyone who has the ability to look beyond their own nose with openness and curiosity, to respond to cultural peculiarities and to perceive international business opportunities with an entrepreneurial flair, has a multitude of interesting opportunities. A good team, the right timing and an appropriate pace are also crucial. There are an increasing number of young companies, the so-called “Born Globals”, who set themselves the goal of selling their product or service in different countries when they were founded in order to secure several competitive advantages for themselves. Behind these start-ups are people who have already worked internationally and have taken a global perspective on their target markets from the start. When it comes to internationalization, they usually use a combination of internal employees and external experts. A good, internal core team is essential, but to keep costs in check, scalable, cross-border teams are the best solution as needed. Online platforms such as Elance-oDesk offer worldwide access to free project managers, programmers, web designers, virtual assistants, copywriters and translators who facilitate entry into a foreign market.
2. Technical competence: Technology is your friend
Another important factor for international success is the development of technical skills. The new technologies not only enable direct contact with customers, but also support the optimization of accounting and logistics. If the technology works flexibly and reliably, the product range can be improved and adapted depending on the market, making niche markets much easier to occupy. In combination with the other skills, this gives a young company a decisive head start on the path to success.
3. Networking skills: Spin a stable web
Building a stable network of international customers, employees, business partners and investors is a skill that a company has for years. However, it is not enough to boldly approach people at events, trade fairs and congresses or to draw attention to yourself via the various social media channels; you should also be able to use the knowledge and expertise from these networks for to use. In this way, a network not only offers contacts, but also provides information about what a lack of knowledge or skills can be compensated for. This is a big plus, especially when it comes to information about foreign markets.
4. Marketing Skills: Show what you've got
Not only start-ups are faced with the challenge of finding customers and successfully retaining them, but also large, established companies that often have huge budgets for marketing and advertising. The ability to operate an effective marketing that reaches the target groups in the defined markets without breaking the budget is a great art. Those who position themselves internationally right from the start have competitive advantages that should not be underestimated simply because international employees, partners and customers from the various markets can give direct feedback. Above all, customer orientation is a driving force behind marketing competence. A young company is still flexible enough to use this input to its advantage, to react quickly and to be able to make appropriate adjustments to the product and its presentation in the respective market.
5. Financial literacy: Money makes the world go around ...

This point is certainly clear to everyone. When financial resources are limited, which is not uncommon for start-ups, strategies are required to overcome this obstacle. Indeed, entering the global market poses a financial risk. However, it is justified by the possibilities of how international opportunities can be exploited profitably. Under no circumstances should start-ups be deterred from internationalization by the supposedly high costs. If sufficient finances are available and resources in combination with the above points are used carefully and with the right dynamics, they can also be used successfully for a company in the long term.
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