As a CEO, I believe in approaching my role as that of an intrapreneur. That is, driving innovation within a company through the mindset of an entrepreneur.
3 Top Tips for Going Global
- Find a problem your market faces and solve it in an innovative way.
- Take the time to build the right technical foundation for streamlining operations and efficiencies.
- Encourage innovation at every level and with every person in your organization.
Having led and grown start-up divisions at several Fortune 500 corporations, in addition to leading smaller companies’ turnarounds and successful exits, I’ve seen firsthand how keen business acumen and out-of-the-box thinking can work in tandem to scale a company to unparalleled heights.
Here are three strategies every founder, CEO and entrepreneur should leverage to turn their startup into a global enterprise.
Take a Customer-Centric Approach
As markets become increasingly crowded, it’s essential to find a problem that’s facing your market and solve it in an innovative way.
To that end, get a deep understanding of your customers’ problems and how your business can add value for them. This means you must know your target market inside out, from its pain points and desires to the shape of the current competitive landscape and the unique value proposition you bring to customers.
Comprehensive market research and customer interviews are key here. So is mindset: a truly customer-centric approach to building a product, service and business model will be a defining difference between a startup that fails and one that grows into a global brand. Delivering an exceptional customer experience should sit at the very core of your business strategy and decision making.
Start by building out highly specific customer personas, including demographics, goals, challenges, motivations and preferences. Once you know your customers, tailor your products and services to meet their unique needs. Design your products and services to be intuitive and user-friendly, delivering on the preferences and behaviors of each user. But don’t rest on your laurels here. Continuously collect feedback through surveys, check-ins, user testing, online communities and more and continually iterate based on customer insights.
Build on the Right Technology
It may sound obvious to say your business model must be scalable and able to accommodate growth. But how you actually accomplish this is the real question. And the secret sauce is this: Build on the right technology.
With the right processes, infrastructure and technology, you’ll be able to pinpoint or prevent many potential bottlenecks or limits to your growth. So, you’ve got to take the time to build the right technical foundation, enabling streamlined operations, better efficiency and greater scalability. To name a few, cloud-based software, automation solutions and data analytics are all important tools for creating better processes and improving your team’s decision making.
With the right technology your business can:
- Grow without disruption or infrastructure overhauls. As the demands on your operations, processes and systems grow, the right infrastructure gives you the ability to seamlessly handle higher volumes of data, transactions and users.
- Increase productivity. By streamlining processes and automating manual and time-consuming tasks, technology platforms allow your team to focus on high-value activities, driving productivity gains.
- Rely on data-driven decision making. Thanks to analytics and business intelligence tools, startups can gather valuable insights into consumer behavior, market trends and organizational performance, ultimately driving more strategic decision making.
- Improve security and compliance. Starting on the footing of a robust tech infrastructure means your organization is set up to protect sensitive data, comply with regulations and privacy laws and meet required cybersecurity standards. Down the line, this will give you a leg up when it comes to earning (and retaining) customer trust and safeguarding your business’ reputation.
And we can’t ignore the sudden and recent boom of AI technology. The companies that succeed going forward will be the early adopters that leverage and integrate cutting-edge AI capabilities into their solutions — sooner rather than later.
Foster a Culture of Innovation
A culture of innovation and agility is invaluable within an organization. Not only will it allow your startup to stay ahead of market trends, but it will also, more importantly, enable you to anticipate customer needs and evolve your products or services accordingly.
For every organization, this means creating platforms and opportunities for teams to think outside of the box, to share and pursue new ideas — with the resources they need to explore new possibilities. This could come in the form of establishing a dedicated research and development department, sponsoring hackathons, providing professional development opportunities or conducting organization-wide listening tours to gather ideas from individuals across the organization.
Developing a culture of innovation also means keeping a pulse on emerging technologies that could disrupt your market or improve your products.
In my experience, the most effective leaders are those who continually solicit ideas to improve processes and innovate, so it’s vital to establish a regular cadence for your leadership to connect with team members and gather their input on specific issues and opportunities at the company. A critical part of developing a feedback loop into this culture of innovation is following through on the most actionable and inspiring ideas and empowering your staff to plan and execute them. It’s also vital that you regularly share with the company any successes that stemmed from those ideas and give credit to the team members who made them a reality.
Developing a culture of innovation also means keeping a pulse on emerging technologies that could disrupt your market or improve your products. Establishing a defined technology evaluation process can be extremely helpful here, providing a way to assess new technologies, conduct proof of concepts and evaluate their viability or impact.
Again, with the recent advances in AI and machine learning, every company should gauge how it can embrace these technologies to spur innovation within its own business and secure a competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving marketplace.
Regardless of how creativity and agility manifests at your organization, always recognize and reward innovative thinking to affirm the value of innovation within your company culture. Businesses go from good to great by staying ahead of the curve of market dynamics and customer expectations to drive sustained growth for the long haul.
The journey of scaling a startup into a global company is not always a simple or straightforward path. However, with the right strategies and mindset, rapid growth becomes attainable. To succeed, founders and CEOs must embrace an intrepreneurial spirit, a relentless focus on the customer and a commitment to innovative ideas and technology.