International markets are too big an opportunity to pass up. Why allow physical borders to dictate the limits of your business?
Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, once said that "if you have a product business and you aren't focused on international, you are missing out on two-thirds of your potential customers." This is still widely relevant to many startups around the world.
Michael Fertik, the 'serial entrepreneur' said in his Harvard Business Review post that staying in your country instead of expanding overseas was more profitable - well, "[that] was true once, but not anymore". The world is increasingly becoming globalised (if not already) and money is still a universal language, whether you're in Korea marketing to Singapore, or closing a deal in New York, or selling to China.
But is it that easy to generate international revenue as it is to do with your home base clientele? An overseas launch is not for those who are unprepared. Before you consider crossing the pond, here are three things you should consider.
1. Partner with someone local. Going alone takes a great deal of energy, resources, and most of all, time. Getting the lay on the land and finding your groove would be made so much easier if you link up with someone 'fluent' in the local culture. Not only this, partnerships 'grease the transition wheel' and you may end up with a team with better skills.
This is especially true for many Asian startups. We don't speak the same language, and it may be difficult to find 'that local somebody'. Connecting people - and being connected - is indeed the next big challenge for startups.
2. Educate yourself. Research about local regulations - especially those that's got to do with labour and tax codes. Having a talented accountant and a lawyer would be ideal. You know it means going back to square one if a legislation affects the launch of your business.
3. Understand the political climate. An unstable government may not be able to give you economic support, and we all know shaky political conditions deter potential investors.