Going global - tips for internet startupsIn a recent guest piece on TechCrunch, French internet entrepreneur Loic Le Meur provided some advice to internet startups: you need to be global. While I agree with this piece of advice, I believe Loic's argument that addressing local markets is a dead-end actually misses the point - every company serves a "local" market in some form or another. Global companies simply serve multiple "local" markets in different locations around the world. That aside, there are a number of compelling reasons why startups should think globally from the outset, including:
- Chances are that the total number of prospective customers for your product or service overseas exceeds the total number of prospective customers in your home country. This means that for many startups, the international markets represent a logical growth opportunity.
- Startups whose products and services have the potential to fulfill needs in foreign markets risk losing those markets to local competitors if they don't move fast enough.
- Many startups can take advantage of currency exchange rates by being global. Startups in the United States, for instance, may be able to help the bottom line by generating revenues in stronger currencies. And those that have to pay overseas vendors with a weakened US dollar can use revenues derived in stronger foreign currencies to offset their increased costs.
- The interests and expectations of both parties are aligned. If you're thinking short-term, for instance, and your partner is thinking long-term, problems will surface. It sounds obvious, but making sure that everybody is on the same page is something that often gets overlooked by companies in a rush to go global.
- You and your partner know what each party needs and that each party is capable of meeting those respective needs. It may, for example, be appealing to partner with a company that has significant valuable relationships in the local market, but if you also need the partner to fulfill obligations related to technology and operations and the partner is less-than-qualified to do so, the relationship is not likely to deliver the desired results for either party.
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