Taking your startup global? Check these common pitfalls first

Scott Cooper has some tips for surviving the move to Silicon Valley.

Scott004More than 20,000 Australians have made the move to Silicon Valley in the hopes of taking their internet startups global. However, the hunt for expert advice and capital is often met with many challenges unseen back home, especially for those dealing with remote teams operating on opposite sides of the world.

It might sound obvious, but the way you communicate with your team could be the difference between success or a long and frustrating experience. Talking to your team daily and taking the time to make personal connections can go further than you think, and taking the time to understand cultural differences that affects the way in which people work could allow you to get the most out of your employees.

Having an open line of online communication is great, but if you can, try to get to your offices and meet face-to-face as often as possible. It may only be a few times a year, but being able to physically sit with someone and work through your strategy for the coming months can make a world of difference.

When it comes to working with a range of time zones scattered across the globe, you need to be prepared for some late nights and early morning meetings. After many years of working with remote teams, I’ve learned that optimising your meeting times can result in freeing up many hours, and keeping your much-needed sleeping patterns.

Try to stack all your late or early meetings into a couple of days, this way you’re not up for half the night every night of the week and won’t burn out after a few months.

Maintaining a global business culture is the glue that will hold your team together. Ensuring that everyone in the organisation is clear on the business objectives, and holding regular all-hands company meetings to reinforce these values is a great way to keep everyone on the same page shooting for the same goals.

Staying true to your company’s goals as you are building remote teams lays the foundations as you expand into new regions.

There’s no shortage of ways to keep in touch with your team online and track projects. Thanks to Slack and Hipchat you can instant message anyone, anytime. Video calling platforms such as Skype and Google Hangouts allow you to have the in-person experience with the click of a button.

Jira, Trello and Confluence are ideal for tracking projects and priorities, and have become a staple for businesses with both in house and remote employees. Finally, never underestimate the power of email, it might not be the coolest tool in the shed, but it’s still one of the best ways to communicate.

When it comes to marketing specifics, you need to know your audience.

Most people think that moving to the United States is easy, culturally. They speak English there, right?

This couldn’t be further from the truth, you might as well be living in France. Yes, the language is the same but the cultural differences are dramatic, and understating them can save you a lot of wasted time and lost deals.

The simplest thing that catches people out involves the difference between ‘s’ and ‘z’, which I have learnt can infuriate people.

Get specific with your targeting too. Unlike Australia, the United States can completely change culture from city to city, and throwing out broad campaigns will not work anywhere as near as effectively as segmenting your audience and doing your research into how to target them.

Geotagging your website so that you can provide customised content on each page can make a huge difference to bounce rates and user retention. Backing this up with content curated for specific regions can establish local authority and drive traffic. Someone in San Francisco is going to react very differently to something intended for a target audience in Melbourne.

With a few simple updates to your website and marketing materials, you will get dramatically better results in traffic, open rates, and what we are all working towards; more sales!

 

Scott Cooper is VP marketing at GO1.com

 

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