GO­ING GLOBAL

A TEN-PART SE­RIES EX­CLU­SIVE TO NZBUSI­NESS IN WHICH SUC­CESS­FUL SE­RIAL EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR MARK LOVEYS PRO­VIDES A SUC­CINCT ‘HOW TO’ GUIDE FOR WOULD-BE EN­TREPRENEURS – TO HELP TAKE YOUR IDEA TO THE WORLD.

NZ Business - - CONTENTS -

In part nine of his ‘Garage to Global’ se­ries, Mark Loveys de­scribes the ap­proach he has used to suc­cess­fully launch off­shore ven­tures.

PART 9. GO­ING GLOBAL

En­ter­ing a new geo­graphic mar­ket is like re-start­ing your start-up all over again, ex­cept that you now have the ben­e­fit of what you’ve learnt and achieved in New Zealand be­hind you.

How­ever, things you took for granted in New Zealand, such as your net­work of con­tacts, your rep­u­ta­tion and some lo­cal as­pects of your mar­ket knowl­edge in New Zealand, will be of lit­tle or no use to you.

My ex­pe­ri­ence in tak­ing busi­nesses be­yond New Zealand’s shores has been re­lated to soft­ware com­pa­nies that tar­get busi­ness cus­tomers. In each case my busi­ness has built and es­tab­lished a soft­ware prod­uct within New Zealand, prov­ing the prod­uct with New Zealand busi­ness cus­tomers, be­fore ven­tur­ing off­shore to other coun­tries.

In this ar­ti­cle, I will de­scribe the ap­proach I’ve used, but this may not ne­c­es­sar­ily be the right ap­proach for other types of busi­nesses in other busi­ness seg­ments.

LO­CAL­I­SA­TION

Lo­cal­i­sa­tion is the process of mak­ing a prod­uct suitable for a lo­cal mar­ket. Hard ex­pe­ri­ence has taught me never to pre­sume that a prod­uct suitable for New Zealand cus­tomers will be suitable for cus­tomers in an­other coun­try.

Other coun­tries have dif­fer­ent laws, dif­fer­ent fea­ture ex­pec­ta­tions, a dif­fer­ent com­pet­i­tive land­scape, dif­fer­ent price ex­pec­ta­tions, dif­fer­ent

Look for large po­ten­tial-part­ner busi­nesses who tar­get the same mar­ket as you with a com­ple­men­tary of­fer­ing to yours.”

ways of do­ing things, cul­tural dif­fer­ences and nu­mer­ous other dif­fer­ences to New Zealand.

Lo­cal­i­sa­tion starts with mar­ket re­search. Talk with prospec­tive cus­tomers in your new re­gion, sur­vey the com­peti­tors there, and com­pare the com­pe­ti­tions’ of­fer­ings to yours. Find some earlyadopter cus­tomers in that mar­ket to be your test cus­tomers as well as your fu­ture ref­er­ence and case study cus­tomers.

Work closely with those early-adopter cus­tomers in your new ge­og­ra­phy. Just as you did with your first cus­tomers in New Zealand, closely mon­i­tor their re­quire­ments and adapt your of­fer­ing quickly when you find gaps. This is an im­por­tant learn­ing ex­er­cise about your of­fer­ing’s suit­abil­ity to your new geo­graphic mar­ket.

Do what­ever you can to en­sure that th­ese first cus­tomers have a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, so they be­come your fu­ture ref­er­ence cus­tomers.

Once you have at least three ref­er­ence cus­tomers in your new ge­og­ra­phy you can start to ramp up your sales and mar­ket­ing ef­forts.

COM­PET­I­TIVE LAND­SCAPE

You may have a dif­fer­ent set of com­peti­tors to com­pete with in your new mar­ket from those you en­coun­tered in New Zealand. If it’s a big­ger mar­ket than New Zealand, there will likely be more com­pe­ti­tion.

Use In­ter­net search­ing to find out about your new com­peti­tors. Look for their fea­ture lists, pric­ing, mar­ket­ing strate­gies and dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels. There may be things you can learn from them that you will want to copy, adapt or im­prove on for your own of­fer­ing.

Work out how to dif­fer­en­ti­ate your of­fer­ing from theirs.

PART­NERS

As a small busi­ness go­ing into a large mar­ket, I rec­om­mend you look for large po­ten­tial-part­ner busi­nesses who tar­get the same mar­ket as you with a com­ple­men­tary of­fer­ing to yours.

In the fi­nan­cial soft­ware in­dus­tries that I’ve tar­geted, th­ese large part­ners usu­ally run large con­fer­ences.

I rec­om­mend at­tend­ing con­fer­ences or trade shows that your po­ten­tial large part­ner ei­ther runs or at­tends. Eval­u­ate whether the at­ten­dees at the trade show are within your tar­get mar­ket and if they are, then look to spon­sor a booth at their fu­ture events.

In­dus­try trade shows in your mar­ket seg­ment and tar­get ge­og­ra­phy should be the best place to meet new prospects, eval­u­ate your com­pe­ti­tion, learn more about the lo­cal mar­ket and iden­tify any fur­ther lo­cal­i­sa­tion re­quired for your of­fer­ing.

MAR­KET­ING

In a new ge­og­ra­phy, ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to gen­er­at­ing sales leads and rais­ing aware­ness of your of­fer­ing.

Form part­ner­ships with key busi­nesses in your tar­get re­gions to get wider geo­graphic cov­er­age. Part­ners in­clude re­sellers of your of­fer­ing, your sup­pli­ers and busi­nesses that sell com­ple­men­tary of­fer­ings. Look for busi­nesses that are in­cen­tivised to sell your prod­uct or re­fer sales prospects to you. Re­fer­rals are the best type of sales leads to have.

Tar­geted on­line mar­ket­ing, through search en­gines and paid dis­play ads can also be ef­fec­tive. Many of th­ese ser­vices give you nu­mer­i­cal feed­back on how well your on­line cam­paigns are work­ing, so that you can make changes over time to op­ti­mise them.

Be pre­pared to spend a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time trav­el­ling within your tar­get ge­og­ra­phy. I find that meet­ing the peo­ple you are do­ing busi­ness with, at least once, will make a big dif­fer­ence to the ef­fec­tive­ness of a re­la­tion­ship.

Tak­ing a busi­ness global is hard work but if done suc­cess­fully is a great way to build the value of your busi­ness prior to an exit (which is the topic of my next ar­ti­cle, the fi­nal in this se­ries).

MARK LOVEYS HAS BEEN DUBBED ‘ ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S MOST SUC­CESS­FUL SE­RIAL SOFT­WARE EN­TREPRENEURS’. HE WAS THE ORIG­I­NAL DE­VEL­OPER OF EXONET, THE ERP SOFT­WARE SUITE NOW CALLED MYOB EXO, AND FOR­MER CHAIR­MAN AND CO- FOUNDER OF DATASQUIRT. AS CO- FOUNDER AND FOR­MER CEO OF ENPRISE GROUP, MARK HELPED ES­TAB­LISH EMS- COR­TEX ‘ CLOUD CON­TROL PANEL’ SOFT­WARE AS A LEAD­ING IN­TER­NA­TIONAL SO­LU­TION AND WAS IN­STRU­MEN­TAL IN THE SALE OF EMS- COR­TEX TO CITRIX IN 2011. TH­ESE TRADE SALES HAVE A COM­BINED VALUE OF MORE THAN $ 50 MIL­LION.

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