In the first part of this series, we spoke about the three MUST-HAVES before a Founder should even consider an expansion to the US. In the second part, we spoke about when a Founder should consider a US expansion.
Now if you meet most of the criteria mentioned in the first two articles, then we can now focus on what it takes to make the US expansion successful. As always, before you rush into anything, step back & consider the key actions you need to take & the most important strategic decisions you need to make if you are to give yourself the best chance of success.
At Jungle we have taken many Asian businesses into the US market & worked closely with founders to navigate the inevitable barriers they face along the way. However, the most important thing we have seen & learnt is that it is the decisions you make before you get on the plane, that are the game-changers.
Success won’t happen by accident. Crossing your fingers & hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it. Expanding in the US market requires that every individual with a stake in the organization knows what success looks like & is focused each day on doing what it takes to reach the next milestone.
So get a cogent plan in place & align it with your board & your executive team. Make sure they understand what investments are being made, what success looks like, and what the key milestones are in the first 90,180, and 365 days.
Be granular on your goals & objectives before you set foot in the US. For example, do you expect to get your first 5 customers within 6 months & your next 15 in the following 6 months? Invest time in crafting a detailed plan now & you will thank yourself for it later down the line.
In their rush to get the right sales team in place, founders often de-prioritize customer success. It is incredibly important that your first few customers have an amazing experience of the product so aim to grow investment in customer success in line with your commercial capacity. This will ensure that the experience will never be compromised however crazy things get. Remember, that you are an Asian company trying to appeal to US customers. It is natural for them to question the quality of service they can expect when the bulk of the business, & the depth of product understanding, is on the other side of the world so you need to over-deliver.
Great experiences generate not only loyalty but advocacy. Make sure you harness this & leverage it to the greatest effect. Grab the testimonials, capture them on video & put them up on your website to help you get your next 10 customers. Nothing will convince a hesitant buyer more effectively than an independent endorsement of the value you bring & the service levels you offer.
Without the right people driving the business forward in the market, growth will be a real challenge. However, finding the right team is not easy. Recruiting should be a diligent & thoughtful process whereby you map out the key criteria for choosing a candidate. A methodical approach is vital because a great US candidate might look very different from a great candidate in your home market. Qualities that might make someone a perfect fit for a sales role in Asia might be totally different from the qualities you need in the US.
Work in collaboration with a recommended local recruiter to build a detailed profile. Remember that in these first few months you will need ‘hustle’. Great individuals at this stage in your expansion might have to be more scrappy, more creative & more independent than candidates need be once the business has scaled.
The allure of Silicon Valley can be hard to resist, & it might well be your best bet, but be sure to consider your other options too. Operating costs in Silicon Valley can be extraordinarily expensive & competing for talent is a tough game.
Explore secondary cities with a strong tech culture & university system where you can attract amazing talent for a fraction of the price & generally the cost of doing business is far lower.
Also, don’t forget that you are now a global business having to navigate the realities of coordinating global teams. Factor in time differences, because in the first few months your ability to work together at distance will be critical. Also, If possible, in an ideal scenario, one of the Founders/co-founders should relocate to the US.
Be patient. Stick to the plan. Success won’t come easy and there will be bumps along the way. Expanding into the US market will be hugely demanding but it will also be one of the most exciting periods in the growth of your business. Stick to the plan. Be patient. Nurture for those encouraging signs of success & learn from any missteps. Look for signs of success and be diligent towards driving the business forward before you decide to change course.
Good luck & send us a postcard!