Ready to take your business global? Hold up! Before you dive in, learn from someone who's been there, done that. Colin Kennedy of Iron Road shares his hard-earned wisdom on international expansion. Trust us, you'll want to read this.
When it comes to international expansion, assumptions can be your worst enemy. Colin Kennedy, who runs Iron Road, a PR and communications firm, warns against assuming too many similarities between markets, even when they seem closely related.
"We sort of think, well, Western countries, English-speaking, there's going to be a lot more similarities than differences. But, in fact, there's quite a lot of differences that we would take for granted," says Colin.
For instance, Colin shared an anecdote about working with NZ Agritech Inc. in the U.S. state of Georgia. The local farmers were puzzled by the New Zealanders' use of center pivot irrigators and fences, which were not common in the U.S. This seemingly small detail turned into a spectacle, underscoring the importance of understanding local practices.
💎 Big Insight: Never assume that your way is the universal way. Take the time to understand local customs and practices to avoid misunderstandings that could derail your business objectives.
Local resources can give you a head start, but they can't teach you everything. Colin emphasizes the importance of understanding the nuances that exist in both culture and law.
"Understanding that they're different is not as much as sort of knowing what is different," Colin points out.
For example, labor laws in Australia might seem similar to those in New Zealand, but the relationship between employers and unions is fundamentally different. In the United States, what is known as "health and safety" in New Zealand is referred to as "occupational hygiene."
💎 Big Insight: The devil is in the details. Even if you're speaking the same language, different terminology can create misunderstandings and slow down your momentum.
Colin's biggest piece of advice is both simple and profound: Listen more than you speak.
"You don't make mistakes if you're speaking less or you reduce your chances of making mistakes or creating misunderstandings. And you learn a lot more when you listen," advises Colin.
Listening not only helps you avoid misunderstandings but also allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the local market, culture, and business practices.
💎 Big Insight: The key to successful international expansion is not just in what you say, but in what you hear. Make listening your priority.
In Summary, international expansion is more than just a business strategy; it's a journey filled with unexpected challenges and invaluable lessons. As Colin Kennedy wisely puts it, "Don't assume, you know, take the time to listen or listen more, speak less and make sure that you can avoid creating the perception that you don't understand how things work there."
Ready to take your business to the next level? Make sure you're listening—especially to those who've walked the path before you.