Business Expansion: Tips And Tricks From A Founders Tool Box

Business Expansion: Tips And Tricks From A Founders Tool Box

Robin Salaux, CEO and co-founder of eAgronom .

When I started my first job at 16, presenting science experiments to schoolchildren, the ideas and expectations for development were very clear and remain the same today. The second company I started in my twenties was completely different. What started as farm management software written as a service for my father has grown into a multifaceted climate technology company with a $10 million investment.

Things have moved so fast, and while there's always more to learn and things to overcome, here are some things I've learned so far as a founder. I hope they can be useful for you.

Determine when and how to expand

When we had our first success and we were in the first phase, we decided to enter eight new markets in one year. Let's just say we learned a lot, including not trying to run until we're gone. There are no hard and fast rules for determining the right time to expand your market, but it will become clear when your domestic market starts to slow down and you feel that you have reached the saturation point with your current supply. Once you feel that your business is ready to expand geographically, there are several factors to consider, such as:

• Does the new target market have a significant customer base?

• What is the competitive landscape?

• Does your offer match the target market?

• Does your proposal comply with local laws and regulations and if not, how difficult is it to achieve?

• Need a physical presence in your target market?

• Can you hire the right talent?

• What are other barriers to entry, including tax obligations, language requirements and cultural differences?

It may seem like there's an endless list to consider when planning your first expansion, but like everything in life, careful preparation makes for a smooth execution. These desires may vary, but in my experience expanding into neighboring countries is a good option to take advantage of cultural and geographic proximity.

Never underestimate culture

While in-depth research can provide you with a wealth of information and data about the economic potential of your target market, there are more subtle and unknown aspects to consider. Cultural awareness is a trait that many people neglect in times of emergency. While these incredible stories of global dominance by a few tech giants (such as Uber, AirBnB and others) may lead some to believe that they are looking for new markets and that their customers will adapt to their way of thinking, this rarely works. . . For example, in the industry we work in, agriculture, trust, strong relationships and mistrust of big business are common features of an agrarian society that is very difficult for outsiders to penetrate.

When deciding whether to hire locally, manage remotely, or relocate existing employees, it's important to consider not only the local culture, but also the industry culture. It's worth factoring into the process an open conversation with some of your existing customers about what they like about working with your company and what they'd like to see improved. From a staffing perspective, in many cases it may make sense to initially outsource many functions, including finance, legal and marketing, in an attempt to create a localized internal environment for business development functions.

Are you ready to upgrade?

When a company feels it has the most to gain from the market, expansion seems like the next logical step. However, it's time to evaluate your idea and decide whether to expand your scope. For example, our company started as a simple farm management software company, then added consulting branches, then carbon emissions and environmental finance, etc. You must constantly evaluate your ideas to see how you can successfully expand your market with new offerings that will future-proof your business and give you a competitive advantage beyond just geography.

From a practical point of view, it is very important to prepare your organization's infrastructure before the expansion begins. This is not just from a technical and technical point of view; Your employees must be able and willing to participate in this new adventure. While it's natural that not all employees want to participate in the growth journey and decide to look for opportunities elsewhere, it's important to make sure everyone feels supported and part of the plan.

Risks, precautions and planning

We are entrepreneurs, so taking risks is part of our genetics. While we cannot achieve success without taking risks, sometimes we need to take a step off the gas pedal and step back to assess the situation. The best way to make sure you don't rush too much is to build a leadership team of people with different backgrounds, skills, and personalities. While it's easy to surround yourself with people who agree with you, this strategy will eventually backfire. You need strategists, planners, analytical thinkers, visionaries and doers of all shapes and sizes. However, importantly, they share the same values. With such a team, the expansion of the organization is going well.

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