10 must-follow rules for international expansion

Rule 1: Work on your international readiness

This step is crucial and determines largely if you’ll be successful in internationalizing your business or not.

Before you start, understand and internalize that you need to prepare yourself and your company for this journey.

Companies that internationalize their business successfully, ask themselves the right questions and prioritize the right metrics when determining the roadmap for international expansion.

TO DO: Assess if your business is ready to scale abroad.

Rule 2: Don’t be afraid to seek advice

If you have never internationalized a company, a business or a product before, get help from experienced professionals.

As everything you do for the first time, there are many pitfalls and errors you can make and most of them are costly and lengthy to recover.

Work with consultants, other entrepreneurs, experienced staff or a country manager on preparing your international development plan.

TO DO: Determine what external advice you should seek!

Rule 3: Develop a vision and engage the whole company

What does “being international” mean to your company?

Where do you want to go?

International development is a great risk but also offers huge opportunities.

You’ll need 100% support and commitment from the board, founders, investors leadership team and employees as this will demand a lot of extra hours for everyone.

Use this momentum to motivate your teams and create loyalty by giving employees the chance to thrive and shape the future of the company.

TO DO: Write down your vision and validate it with trusted advisors.

Rule 4: Don’t EVER EVER EVER skip market research and assessment

Choosing the right markets and understanding the specificities of your target markets is a key phase of your international development.

Use a very pragmatic and analytic approach to market research to gain valuable market insights and first contacts quickly without over-stretching your budget.

TO DO: Define your market research and assessment plan NOW!

Rule 5: Close the gap: Assure product-market fit

Based on your findings from market research and assessment define the right product-market-fit for each target market.

Take into account regional specificities as well as competition and develop the requirement-set.

Depending on your business/product modifications may include user flow, design, communication touchpoints, etc.

TO DO: Define your market research and assessment plan NOW!

Rule 6: Get professional legal advice as early as possible

If you like it or not, getting a good lawyer is crucial for laying down the right structure for expanding abroad.

The process can be difficult and slow, with seemingly endless paperwork, so get yourself a good attorney who knows the ins and outs of the market you are expanding into.

You’ll also need good local legal representation in your new country to ensure a smooth launch, so be sure to get that lined up ahead of time.

TO DO: Find the right legal partner for each market you want to enter!

Rule 7: Get your boots on the ground and be where your business is

Yes, you can get a lot done remotely, but at some point, you also have to be there.

Meet your local lawyers and potential partners, employees and especially clients face to face.

Be there to buy furniture for the new office, and celebrate your office’s grand opening.

Share your company’s story, mission and vision with your new team in a way only you can… in person.

TO DO: Book a flight or train ticket!

Rule 8: Global presence, local relevance

The work on your international readiness and the first markets will help you build your approach to international development.

You’ll be ready to face global markets.

Remain consistent in the companies branding, but adapt to the local environment.

Be sure to localize your company and products/services.

TO DO: Define what is crucial to your business on a global and on a local level. Make a localisation plan.

Rule 9: Team is all, especially abroad

Your team is your biggest asset. Without the men and women that drive your product and company, you would be nothing.

Hiring a great team is difficult, especially in foreign markets.

Beware that other markets and cultures have specific recruitment markets, local HR laws, and rules.

Depending on the intercultural differences, job profiles and requirements need to be adapted. Get local advice to be sure you have the best recruitment plan in place.

Also, beware that roles and titles vary depending on the market.

TO DO: Draft a recruitment plan with your country manager or head of growth and get local advice.

Rule 10: Empower the team and let go!

Give yourself plenty of time to nurture and empower your new team.

Yes, you’ll want to teach and test them before handing over the reins — after all, they’re your new face in the new market — but resist the urge to be a “Helicopter CEO.”

Let them make mistakes and learn from them.

TO DO: Define how to empower your teams every day and what to do to let go!

When thinking about expanding your business internationally, Germany quickly becomes …

Defining your roadmap: planning and preparing your international expansion. 01: Market …

“Wait a minute, that’s not what we were talking about!” …


Do you have any questions? Let’s discuss how we can best internationalise your business and achieve your growth objectives.

We always have time and coffee (or tea) available to answer all your questions!

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