Today’s technology tidal wave is filled with startups that have successfully raised capital and gained traction regionally but fall short when trying to enter the global market. The problem is that the worldwide demand for new technology necessitates entrepreneurship without borders. Too many startups take an isolationist approach to team building and marketing, which doesn’t work – especially outside of Silicon Valley. But, whether your company originates in the U.S., Zimbabwe, Moscow, or elsewhere, if you focus your time and money on recruiting international talent and assimilating into the international community, you stand an equal chance of success.
Here are a few ways you can optimize your business’s global potential.
Build An All-Star Team
Technology is only as viable as the people behind it. No matter how well your product is developed, if you haven’t assembled an all-star team to sell your product, you will quickly be overshadowed. Think about how sports teams strategically trade players in order to assemble the best possible team with the most successful track record. Diversity is one of the biggest selling points for any company.
It’s not enough to build a brand under an experienced, well-networked CEO. Even if your CEO is the most important player on your team, he or she is still only one player. Smart CEOs don’t just recruit senior level management from their already established networks; they recruit the most experienced international players, each with their own strong network. The more you diversify your team for global success, the more you incentivize top advisors and investors to play a role in your brand and your brand’s story. Your team’s individual players are your greatest assets.
Connect With Customers
One of the most important touchstones of a successful company is knowing when to pivot and when not to pivot. The best way to make these judgement calls is to let your customers help you make them. It may seem counterintuitive, but entrepreneurship without borders begins in your local coffee shop. A great way to build your brand globally is to prioritize one-on-one interactions with your customers by initiating genuine conversations and asking open-ended questions about their pain points and appreciations. If your business isn’t dedicated to customer development – if you’re not constantly engaged in that feedback loop – you won’t know where you play in the field and you’ll be relying, instead, on your own irrational exuberance.
It can be especially difficult for tech-minded businesspeople to keep the big picture in mind and allow their customers to course correct their technology. But if you don’t listen to your customers’ needs, you will waste critical funds developing and marketing a product no one may want to buy. Your company’s goal should always be to create a product customers want so badly they’re willing to pay a premium for it.
In today’s competitive market, company leaders need to think and act like global leaders. And if the brains behind a business aren’t comfortable taking center stage, then they need to hire charismatic co-founders who can drive the company forward by delivering its message in a way that personally resonates with people around the world.
For instance, AI innovators need to bring emotional intelligence to their artificial intelligence. This is because AI isn’t intended to be utilized by AI. It is designed to serve humans with human emotions and personalities. Some of the most successful technologists in the world weren’t just great innovators; they were great leaders. It’s no coincidence that Steve Jobs built an iconic brand while branding himself as a cultural icon.
Move Quickly And Don’t Look Back
Just as effective leaders prioritize personality, they’re also forward thinking. They don’t waste time scrutinizing yesterday’s news, because yesterday’s news doesn’t matter. The old adage that “history repeats itself” and the notion that the best way to move forward is to look at the past don’t necessarily work in a world with a 24-hour news cycle. As individual people and cultures become increasingly connected through technology, society becomes exponentially more global by the second. The world today barely resembles the world 100 years ago. And the world 20 years from now might barely resemble the world today.
Speed is critically important in a market that’s constantly growing. Among comparable contenders, the first company to get off the ground and into the hands of the consumer will frequently dominate the space. But getting into the hands of the consumer is just the first of the infinite steps that are required to stay ahead. Staying on top of the industry means you must continually test your hypothesis and course correct as necessary. If your business is to evolve alongside your customers – and it has to evolve to survive – then you will forever need to reframe your trajectory.