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Guest blog: The 7 steps to make your business global- a StartEDIN Masterclass

By Andrew Bond of Brightsolid

I don’t know much about international business, heck, I barely know ANYTHING about it. Two people that do know a lot about it are Russell Dalgleish and Steve Turner from Exolta Capital Partners.

This post contains the insights I gained from attending StartEDIN’s “international connections” masterclass.

1: Look at your current business

Before you even think about expanding your business internationally, Steve advised that you have to know your current business inside and out. What specifically works about your current business? What are your margins? What systems do you have in place?

Most importantly, you have to be able to see your product or service through the eyes of the consumer. You have to understand why it is they buy from you and decide whether you can replicate this abroad.

2: Research your opportunities

Once you’ve got a grasp of your current business model, you have to research your opportunities.

We live in an age of rapid free flow of information, where it has never been easier to conduct research or instantaneously communicate.

Russell recommended using this to your advantage. Even within Google, there are many tips and tricks. Looking for long reports and white papers on a specific subject? Type “filetype:pdf and then what you’re looking for. Looking for financial documents in spreadsheet format? Type “filetype:xls”.

If only I’d known these tricks when I was researching my dissertation!

3: Innovation- seek out the support around you.

When it comes to innovation, Scotland has a lot of support available and Steve and Russell believe it isn’t being fully utilised.

For businesses just starting out, Business Gateway have a solid framework and support network.

When businesses have matured beyond Business Gateway and wish to expand globally, Scottish Development International will support them and even carry out research on their behalf.

In particular, Russell raved about the Data Lab, one of the Scottish innovation centres which allows collaboration on data science projects between industry and academia. Russell called The Data Lab “transformational”.

4: Decide on a place

With 194 countries outside the UK, picking somewhere to go can be difficult. You only need to pick one!

For entrepreneurs looking to crack the Chinese market, at the event we were made aware of the Edinburgh-Shenzen Creative Exchange.

5: Go there

Once you’ve decided on a market you want to move in to, you should go there. While there, be sure to meet as many people as you possibly can.

Steve laughs at the fact for the same price as he takes his family for a meal at Frankie & Bennies, he can also plan a business trip to another country.

6: Start experimenting

The main message here was don’t be afraid to try something new. Russell and Steve emphasised that too many people get bogged down by the unhealthy constrains of perfectionism.

Before you move into the market, you can trial out how well your marketing messages will work for a small investment. One of the attendees, Peter, from Splash White Water Rafting, told us about how he had tested out how popular his service would be in different countries by trialing paid Facebook ads. While he found Australia to be generally receptive, Norwegians weren’t interested.

7: Be thorough with localisation

While perfectionism isn’t something that should be aspired to, Steve recommended that you are absolutely thorough with localisation. For a business to localise, it needs to truly understand a country’s business culture and how to appeal to its people. For an overview of business cultures around the world, Steve recommended a book called “Mind Your Manners”, by John Mole.

Thanks to Steve and Russell for passing on their knowledge in this informative talk. Also thank you very much to Kendra Byers at StartEDIN for organising such a high quality event.

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