What have been your biggest learnings on scaling a business globally?
Cultural nuances are a real thing. Get comfortable with not having the same amount of high touch, but bear in mind that the regional differences do matter. In the UK words that we would spell with a Z (materialize) are spelled with an S (materialise). These innocuous differences do matter. In a former role we sold a platform that managed entitlements, and that literally had no direct translation in French.
In many Nordic countries gifting isn't just frowned upon, it's against the law. So my biggest learnings are that you need to understand everything about doing business in a region, not just whether your solution has potential demand.
Biggest learnings on scaling a business globally:
- etablish product market fit in core market first.
- beta/pilot core PMF offering in new markets before going big on strategy/execution. listen/learn and adjust to market reactions (in terms of positioning/messaging) and enable team from there.
- messaging is not one-size-fits all - test your way to what good looks like.
- decentralize PMM to support global efforts.
The most important thing is understanding that regions work at different paces—the rate of acceleration between role types and career progression. And it’s also important to understand the hierarchies of every region: While it might be OK in the US, for example, to get direct answers from team members of every level, when you work with teams overseas, sometimes it’s best to start with the leadership. And small gestures can go a long way toward building international teams—international-friendly meeting times and virtual group events go a long way.
On a business level, you have to build a market strategy around regional nuances: What compels a client to act? How is that different from other regions? How can we adapt proven strategies to specific areas? Awareness and responsiveness are crucial.
The biggest learning and maybe an obvious one is that what works in one region may not work in another. Cultural differences absolutely can and do impact how things like sales, marketing, and customer engagements are received. If your company is expanding globally to new regions, spend time with your teams on the ground there - join sales calls and learn about how business is conducted in those areas. These insights will help you develop the right go to market strategies.
In addition to that - my last piece of advice is to not think about localization as an afterthought. Bake it into all launch and GTM planning. It's something that requires time and needs to be accounted for in work-back plans and schedules!