Expanding overseas

Five tips for taking a Kiwi business global

3 min read

Entering new offshore markets is a big step, but it can be helpful to remember that other Kiwi businesses have gone before. Here we share some insights from the founders of Kiwi businesses who have already successfully taken the leap:

1. Choose the right market

There are many factors that will influence which offshore market you choose to go into – whether you’re looking to tap new market segments or attract top talent. What will ultimately guide your decision is your understanding of what your business needs to grow.

Take serial entrepreneur Ezel Kokcu, for example, who’s operated businesses in Australia, the US and China, and is currently founder and CEO of the event and ticketing management platform Passphere.

When assessing which market to move in to, Kokcu looks at where her existing customers are operating overseas, giving her an indication of where there may be demand for her product. She then validates these assumptions rigorously by spending time in-market. “Ultimately don’t go into any country until you’ve got people really interested,” she says. “When you’ve got a customer prepared to sign it’s a good indication you should move into that market.”

2. Different cultures, different ways of doing business

Every market has its own rules, etiquette and ways of operating. The business culture of a market will impact everything from your market entry strategy to how you build relationships.

Jonny Hendriksen, a New Zealand entrepreneur with more than 15 years’ experience building businesses in Japan and who is now founder and CEO of content marketing platform Shuttlerock, says some markets are more relationship based than others. For example, it’s common in some Asian countries to partner with a local firm that already understands the business culture. Similarly, in the US companies will often set up channel partnerships or reseller arrangements as a way to enter the market.

3. Consider time zones

Time zones are often overlooked when expanding globally, but they can significantly impact how a business can service its customers and communicate with its offshore-based team and other stakeholders. While markets like the US West Coast and Singapore have a considerable time zone overlap with New Zealand, markets like the UK have very little.

4. Markets within markets

Within continents and countries there are different cultures, market demands, and ways of doing business – ‘markets within markets’. Expansion into Europe or Asia, for example, must be considered country by country. Similarly, we’ve observed that the best way to approach Australia is to expand city by city, or state by state.

5. Getting the lay of the land

At Kiwi Landing Pad we recommend companies looking to expand into other markets actually spend time on the ground to get the lay of land. Taking time to learn about the market and business culture by talking with potential customers, partners, or competitors will help you make a more informed decision about which market to move to, and help develop your go-to-market strategy.

Being on the ground also opens up the possibility of chance meetings, introductions, and breakthroughs that can’t occur remotely.

Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) supports entrepreneurs and companies in building a global business. Originally founded to help Kiwi businesses land in Silicon Valley, KLP has evolved into a thriving global community of over 4500 members across 36 countries.