Going Global for Startups

4 mentalities to adopt when globalizing your startup company.

Today, the world is remarkably small. 

Five-hundred years ago—give or take—it took Magellan three long years to successfully circumnavigate the globe. By comparison, in today’s digital age, we can be connected in an instant to employees and business leaders throughout the world, communicating as if we were all in the same room. 

That’s what I dreamed of when I started my entrepreneurial journey; I wanted to make the world a smarter, smaller, and easier place to exist. Three startups later, all related to communication, I realized that even as the world gets larger, I see ways to make it easier and more affordable to do business globally as if you were doing it locally. 

Going global with a startup or business is easier than it has ever been (although it still has its challenges), but success must be attributed to the consideration toward international expansion right from the start. 

While many startups state an intention to “someday” expand their business overseas, the process can seem like an incredibly daunting task. New markets, unfamiliar cultures, administrative procedures, visas, sales, and language barriers are enough to deter any Magellan-esque ambition. 

For all those entrepreneurs overwhelmed with the task of “going global,” know that it is very possible, but only when you think global from the start and use communication to pave the way—not just to speak the same language, but to swim in the same lane. Here are a few items to add to your startup primer that will guide you on your journey.

1. Design for Scale and Plan to Go Global From Day One

If you start out small and think small, you will be small. The world is a competitive marketplace with new ideas and businesses starting at the rate of one per second, so if you believe in what you are creating, pave the way to be global so that you won’t regret it when your competition finds your untapped markets first. 

2. Don’t Allow Language to Be a Barrier

The world revolves around multiple languages with multiple meanings. It is important from the start to understand that your customer might speak as many as eight different languages, and you must be prepared. Use technology and surround yourself with talent that is agile enough to know how to navigate multilingual communications. 

3. Be Prepared for Success

While as many as 90% of startups fail, most do so because they did not prepare for success from the outset. While success takes time, being prepared each day and building on even the smallest successes can forge a way to scale. Plan and win by focusing on the end game. 

4. Trust Your Instincts

Don’t doubt yourself. Even when there is room for doubt. Look around you and find the talent that will help you believe in what can be achieved. If you believe in yourself and your team, and are passionate about your dream, everything else can be learned. No one else will trust you if you cannot trust yourself.

Fardad Zabetian, a visionary entrepreneur, technologist, and communication disruptor, currently serves as founder and CEO of KUDO Inc., a SaaS platform that democratizes real-time language interpretation for web meetings, live conferences, and global business interactions.