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Going international with a startup isn’t easy. While startup founders might feel they are ready, there are some trivial errors, if not asserted earlier, could cause a set-up to fail. This article provides you with insights on some of the most common mistakes a startup makes while crossing borders. Isabel Brouwer is the CEO of DutchBasecamp, an organisation which helps Dutch startups scale internationally. Brouwer helps Dutch startups connect and network with people by offering classes, coaching and more. Here are some of those fallacies, as per Brouwer, which addressed beforehand, could help pave the way to success for a startup.
Lack of preparation
It is rightly said, expect the best but prepare for the worst. The same principle applies to startups that are planning on going international. Preparation is an indispensable tool and scaling without proper and extensive research is most likely to lead to failure. One needs to conduct plenty of research as to where they are scaling, if they have enough resources, contacts, whether their product is a good fit for the next market and more.
There are options available to help a startup prep about the next market where they intend to deploy. For example, DutchBaseCamp offers tools to help startups decide that based on their current product market fit, which next market will be a good fit. There is also an option to go for coaching with which one gets to interact and gather knowledge from about 20 experienced founders. Then, there’s the element of ‘Lean Landing’ that helps connect a startup with people who can offer insightful and resourceful advice.
Scaling too soon
While ramping up seems to be the next logical step for any startup, there’s a lot to deliberate before jumping the gun. Brouwer spoke to both, successful and unsuccessful founders of various startups to understand about this problem. She says, “One of the most common mistakes a startup makes is of scaling too soon, as most companies start thinking of and expanding even before they have an actual product market fit.”
Speaking of market fit, “Scaling internationally for finding the right market fit for a startup’s service or product is not really the right way to go,” states Brouwer. “One should instead try to alter their product for their current market.”
Shortage of funds
Without a good influx of funds, startups start to dry down. Let’s say that the founder of a startup has put in enough research, and has altered their product for the place where one is expanding to. Without enough money, chances are next to none that a startup will be able to make it big.
As per Brouwer, “if one is expanding their startup to the US, they should have at least a million euros saved up. There are many aspects that require constant funding to keep a startup afloat overseas. For example, hiring a good lawyer in Silicon Valley is said to cost around $500 per hour. Even with the right product-market fit and ample research, scarcity of funds will most likely lead towards failure.
Keeping an open mind
Startup founders can be a bit cocky at times, especially when it comes to taking advice. However, keeping an open mind and absorbing useful information is impertinent for a successful startup. As per Brouwer, it’s a paradox. While the founder of a startup needs to be stubborn, they also need to be open-minded. Additionally, if a startup has reached a point where they are going international, it’s most likely that it has found a balance between seeking information and being stubborn when required.
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