The importance of rolling out local but planning global for startups

In today's connected world, don't restrict your customer base to a specific region, but also don't spread yourself out too thin. 'Think glocal' is the mantra for startups today.
Written by Srinivas Kulkarni, Contributor

The technology in today's world has enabled many avenues for everyone, including entrepreneurs and startups who are thinking of going beyond local. Nowadays, there are so many business ideas that could cater to many different geographies, and the problem statement could be a global one for sure. It is mandatory for startups, then, to think with a broader horizon and not restrict themselves to focusing on a business idea that can only reach a scale within a specific geography, country, or continent.

Many entrepreneurs think global, but while their aspirations are great, their growth doesn't reflect their ambitions. What is the best way to go about building and marketing your startup in such a way that you start targeting a particular audience and expand towards a global horizon?

Many entrepreneurs who have a long-term goal usually think globally and focus on acting locally right from day one. Designing and delivering global solutions and work quality that will appeal to global customers but also be relevant to local entities is the ambition of many entrepreneurs. However, how does one go about achieving this? Here are some aspects that would help entrepreneurs be global while rolling out locally.

Start with the small steps

Of course, you can't just become global overnight. Yes, we all know that Rome wasn't built in a day. But the key element for startups to focus on when they start is to take small steps is to keep in mind a lot of aspects not just locally, but also globally.

One key agenda would be to ensure that when you start making the business plan from scratch, you factor in the strategy such that you don't fail to address the future needs of going global, while at the same time you don't overshoot yourself so much that you forget to solve problems that your product aims to figure out in the local context.

Branding is key

So, while you begin divining your messaging and building your startup, one of the essential factors that will help you to be recognized globally as well as locally is what brand name you choose for yourself, and how much you identify with the branding aspect that will keep you global in the future. It is important to recognize and take into consideration aspects of language, culture, regional motivators, and what makes your customers tick overall.

You don't want to choose a branding now and then pivot later, when your realize that you want to go global. That would burn a lot of your funds, and you'd probably have a lot of problems in brand recall and many other aspects as well. Pick your company and product names carefully. Don't choose a name with a negative connotation in some other language. Anticipate emotional quotient of your customers, and play on it to reach out better in terms of the overall solution.

Focus on emerging economies

Today, there is huge growth in markets all across the world in emerging economies. A lot of it has to be attributed to the fact that it's not yet saturated; however, the sheer volume of these economies and countries adopting newer technologies should give you a drive to target them at the onset. Of course, not all markets could be your thing. But identify which of the emerging markets your product would fit into. Tailor your branding, solutions, and strategy accordingly. Start building every aspect of your marketing, as well as advertising to reach out to this audience.

It is important that you drive your brand in international markets, as it will have higher prices and additional customer value. At the same time, do maintain the balance between different regions, and identify when to look for newer markets in other locations to make up for the saturation in one market.

Customer language is key

Of course, no matter how much we try, we cannot overstate this aspect when it comes to glocal planning. If you have a demand with specific language requirements, then cater to them, don't ignore it. Certainly, a multi-lingual product page and website can help in increasing growth of local online businesses for sure. Reciprocating with the customer in his or her own language not only adds a personal touch, it also gives your customer a reassurance that you're there for them. Hire local resources in the geographies you want to touch. They are in the best position to actually reach out to your customers and help you drive your sales a lot better than someone within your own team in your country.

At the end of the day, a lot of new-age entrepreneurs need to delve into many aspects of driving service, building product, and making sales on a global basis. But at the same time, to make sure that you start off right, you need to go step by step. Start planning out locally and expand globally. You will not only achieve the scale you require, you'd also maintain consistency in achieving your goals, and your burn rate will be the slowest if you plan this way.

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