Invoice2go founder Chris Strode on why startups need to think globally from day one

Chris Strode

Invoice2Go founder Chris Strode

It’s not enough for a startup to think big anymore.

Now you have to think global, and the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be.

Read more: Six tips for expanding internationally

It’s never been more important to start considering global marketplace opportunities. Partly because of the bigger opportunities available in developing economies, but also because we are now fully immersed in the internet age, where people are more connected than ever.

This connectivity provides unlimited potential for business without borders wherever you are.

In emerging markets, progress leads to opportunity. Better internet access and greater smartphone adoption means more people can access support networks, services and tools that help them feed money back into their communities and economies.

We’ll see more people starting businesses, and also looking for products and services to help them make it easier to do so.

But prioritising global strategy is surprisingly not always natural for startups. In the beginning, there is a heavy focus on keeping your business narrow in scope.

Work on a minimum viable product, open it to a small market, then ramp up the rollout efforts over time. In the US especially, where your market is big enough to sustain growth for a long time, how do you set yourself up for global commercial success from the very beginning?

Because Invoice2go was born in Australia, we always knew we had to appeal to a global market. It’s that mindset that has helped us avoid a number of hurdles as we expanded, and played a big part of our growth path.

Here are some of the ways it pays to think globally from the start.

Pick the right business

Thinking about the global potential of a business idea before you get started is a luxury you should take full advantage of. Also consider the potential hurdles you may face. It will be harder to grow if you go into a business that will see you dealing with the constraints of local regulations, or where local rules end up shaping a lot of your choices.

Focus on a problem that’s shared by everyone

People tend to be more similar than they are different, and that goes the same for their challenges. Regardless of whether you’re running a cleaning business in San Francisco or selling spice at a market in India, small businesses across the world have much more in common than one might think.

Regardless of industry culture or geographical barriers, most small businesses have the same or similar pain points at their core. If you can focus on a product or a service that appeals to this, you will have success regardless of which market you’re in or aiming at.

Heavily scrutinise the need for a physical presence

Companies can often be reluctant to enter a new market until they are completely set up there with an office space, local staff, local phone number, and other assurances.

That course of action will make sense for many types of businesses, but many others will be able to fake it until they make it. There is a lot of clever technology that’s made it very easy to operate efficiently around the clock in every location.

Getting to know your market and audience in a new market is high priority, but opening an office there isn’t always a necessary step to doing good business there.

Be well travelled

If you’ve never left your country, it’s going to be pretty hard envisioning yourself selling anywhere else. I travelled for a year when I was 19 which enabled me to develop a really good global mindset. Meeting people around the world helped me see them as potential customers.

If I weren’t a traveller, I’d struggle to have that perspective. Holidays are a great investment.

Work with other well travelled people

Hire people who are even more worldly, and share the view that the world is your oyster. We hire people with diverse backgrounds and global life experience because it gives us an inherent way to think broader than our own markets.

Our team brings together talent from a range of countries including Indonesia, Canada, Russia, Mexico, the US, United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and China among other countries.

Pairing the reality of today’s global market with a global mindset will help businesses reach new levels of growth that are more accessible today than they’ve ever been. As the world becomes filled with entrepreneurs, they need tools to help them thrive.

Start thinking in their shoes, and your business will naturally become one that won’t just thrive in your home country – it’ll grow to be a global success story.

This article was first published by StartupSmart.

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