Tag: sales strategy

Negotiating is like going into a church - New Frontiers Simon O'Keeffe

Negotiating is like going into a church

Negotiating is like going into a church - New Frontiers Simon O'Keeffe

Negotiating is like going into a church or temple. It’s different. There are different rules and etiquette. People behave differently once they are there. Like a church, negotiation has a special purpose that makes it different from ordinary, humdrum conversations. Its purpose is to reach an agreement.

But to leave it at that would be like saying that a church’s purpose is to keep out the rain. There’s more to it than that. Done properly, negotiation can deliver a rewarding and enriching experience as well as a good agreement. You can learn more about yourself by reflecting on a negotiation. You can find out more about others in the negotiation and deepen your relationships with them. Negotiation can provide space for great creativity. It’s often a chance to show and receive generosity that will repay itself many times over.

So, back to the church analogy – say a famous cathedral in a foreign city. How many times have we gone in, let the biggest decision be whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise, trudged around and left? I’m not at all religious but I remember once visiting an Armenian Catholic monastery on San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a small island in the Venetian Lagoon. Luckily for me, I was with somebody who always prepared well, so I had clear expectations about what I’d see, hear and feel. It was a visit full of wonder and I came away with a new respect for others’ practice of their religion and celebration of their history.

Of course, few of our negotiations bear comparison with visiting San Lazzaro! I don’t want to overplay the comparison. My point is this: you can reap additional rewards from a negotiation if you see it as a process to steadily and deliberately reach an agreement. The better you become at working the process, the more time you will have to spend on the people involved and on researching and understanding the issues. This is rewarding in and of itself and it will lead to a better agreement and stronger relationships.

The process of negotiation

The process of negotiation that derives from Roger Fisher and William Ury’s seminal Getting to Yes is simple to grasp, even if it’s quite hard to discipline oneself to use it! If you’re facing into a negotiation into which you’re going to commit effort, it’s well worth working on the imperatives of a negotiation that Fisher & Ury put forward. It’s even more worthwhile if it’s a negotiation into which you know the other side is going to commit effort because it helps to ensure that a principled approach will prevail.

The imperatives are:

  • Separate the people from the problem.
  • Focus on interests, not positions.
  • Generate a variety of options before deciding what to do.
  • Insist that the result is based on objective criteria.

You can approach this in stages: Analysis, Planning, Discussion, Bargaining and Agreement.

Analysis

The first stage is Analysis. Spend some time, preferably with others, trying to diagnose the situation. Gather information, organize it, and think about it. Consider the people problems of partisan perceptions, hostile emotions, and unclear communication, as well as to identify your interests and those of the other side. Note options already on the table and identify any criteria already suggested as a basis for agreement options.

Planning

During the ensuing planning stage, you deal with the same four elements a second time, adopting a point of view about the people issues and what the real interests at stake are. That forms the basis for productive work to generate additional options and additional criteria for deciding among them.

Discussion

During the discussion stage, differences in perceptions, feelings of frustration and anger, and difficulties in communication can be acknowledged and addressed. Each side can and should come to understand the interests of the other. Both can then jointly generate options that are mutually advantageous and seek agreement on objective standards for resolving opposed interests.

Bargaining

Then, in the bargaining stage, you can go hard on resolving the opposed interests and yet go easy on the people. By using the give and take of bargaining, you narrow and close the gaps and leave everyone with something.

Agreement

Finally – and this is often forgotten – it’s essential that you jointly record the agreement reached. All to often, you’ll hear “but I thought you meant…”, so, write it down and agree what’s written!

So, negotiating is like visiting churches. The more you know about them, the easier it is to appreciate the specialness of one you’re visiting this time. Similarly, the better you become at working a negotiation along the lines described here, the more rewarding the process itself will be and the better the agreements you reach will be.

About the author

Simon O'Keeffe New Frontiers programmeSimon O’Keeffe

Simon O’Keeffe has over 20 years’ experience in business strategy and operations. He has been involved in leadership training of New Frontiers participants since 2011… [Read Simon’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Richard Mc Manus Exhibition tricks and trips New Frontiers

Exhibiting your startup: a 25-step checklist for excellence

Richard Mc Manus Exhibition tricks and trips New Frontiers

Trade shows and exhibitions are an invaluable opportunity that’s often underused by early-stage startups. However, it’s a mistake to view them solely as a sales tactic. In this blog, Richard Mc Manus looks at other reasons to exhibit at shows and fairs, the lessons he has learnt from attending some 40 events with his startup, and gives us a 25-step checklist for exhibition excellence!

You must be mad!

Unless you are selling food for the hungry or hurley sticks at the Ploughing, you do not make money at exhibitions. Since graduating from the New Frontiers programme in 2015 my start-up, Cara Mara luxury seaweed baths, has participated in around 40 exhibition events. I hope that many business owners and managers, especially of new businesses, can learn from my experience.

Some of my fellow exhibitors have cried after the event because they did not get a single sale. Recently, I heard one high profile startup entrepreneur tell how he spent €10,000 on a single event, had negligible sales and managed to wipe out his cash reserves.

Why exhibit at trade fairs?

To build initial public awareness of Cara Mara – which sells a home seaweed bath product – we exhibited at a range of fairs. This included exhibitions tied in with sport, health, business, as well as summer shows. Yes, they did create a certain level of awareness, but they never generated high volume sales. Truthfully, it was a mistake to have even attended some of them. The lesson I took from this is that it is essential to ask yourself two questions when planning to attend an event:

  1. Will your target customer group(s) be at the exhibition?
  2. Will they be buying?

Here’s how we experienced the different events we exhibited at, and the level of interest a product such as ours could typically attract:

  • Sports events: participants are completely absorbed in their preparation and recovery (e.g. running, cycling, etc.) and then socialising with their friends afterwards.
  • Business seminars/exhibitions: attendees are mainly interested in the conference talks and then socialising and networking during the breaks. Exhibition stands are almost a distraction.
  • Summer shows: visitors are mainly interested in being entertained by animal demonstrations, live music stage shows, and a summer day out to meet friends old and new.

The best exhibitions are those which people attend because they have a specific need to address, and they intend to buy. In my case good examples included:

  • Taste of Monaghan, Taste of Cavan, etc. Yes, these provincial events include non-food products and services.
  • Wellfest. Attendees were specifically seeking ways to enjoy life and improve health.

Think awareness rather than sales

Most businesses, whether they are selling to business or the general public, will have specific exhibitions where their target customers will attend and hang out. It’s essential to research such events to make sure they are right for you.

What does the word ‘exhibit’ even mean?

“To publicly display, show, present, demonstrate, showcase.”

So unless you’re one of those food vendors or hurley stick sellers mentioned above, exhibitions are mainly for creating customer awareness! You’re making a connection in anticipation of future transactions. But remember that consumers are busy people and easily forget you, unless you are in front of them on a consistent, regular basis.

Exhibit with excellence – a checklist of 25 steps

This is my 25-step recipe for a successful exhibition strategy.

Research

  1. Check out the exhibition the year before you expect to attend – i.e. visitor profiles, traffic flow, etc.
  2. If that isn’t possible, check out the organiser’s website to see who exhibited last year. Phone those exhibitors and ask how they got on and what advice they would offer.
  3. Cost benefit – decide what your objectives are and write them down. Are the expected benefits worth the cost (stand costs, staff, travel, accommodation, meals, extras)?
  4. Grants – perhaps you could leverage funding to help with costs? Are there any business development/export grants you could apply for?

Dealing with organisers

  1. Try to get a discount on the cost of a stand. Explain that you are a startup, you are on the books of your local LEO or an Enterprise Ireland client, or perhaps that you are a first time exhibitor at this particular event and you’re not sure it is for you. Always seek a discount, most commercial organisers are flexible on price.
  2. Consider waiting to the last moment to get a discount price for late cancellations/organisers seeking to fill exhibition hall.
  3. Payment: delay to latest date possible and pay in instalments. I suffered a significant bad debt when an event was cancelled and the organiser went into liquidation.

Stand preparation

  1. Traffic flow: check out or anticipate the visitor flow in the exhibition hall. There is no point in taking the cheapest stand if it’s at the quietest part of the hall.
  2. Positioning: the best stand pitches are at corners (you gain exposure from two directions) and the end of aisles (visitors can directly see you as they approach). Ask for them.
  3. Be professional: your stand backdrop, exhibition table, and product display need to reflect quality and grab visitors’ attention. It needs to say “I’m interesting. Check me out.” There are many excellent display providers, but I particularly like focusonline.ie.

Exhibition preparation

  1. Checklist: prepare in advance to avoid any shortcomings
    a) Equipment, brochures, and leaflets for the stand
    b) Product for the stand
    c) Staffing
    d) Times: opening, closing, set up. Organise logistics to get there on time
    e) Insurance: make sure you have adequate public liability cover
  2. Social media: spread awareness and make a noise about the event in advance. If you tag the organisers, they will usually re-post your communications.
  3. Customer communications: if you are a B2B business, write to your existing customers and prospects inviting them to the exhibition/your stand. Provide them with free entrance tickets as appropriate.
  4. Dress code: depends on your industry/business/culture, wear suits, branded t-shirts, name tags, etc.

Showtime

  1. Fellow exhibitors: remember they may be potential customers! Talk to them and ask what exhibitions work well for them. They are a treasure of knowledge and experience.
  2. Be passionate. Enjoy yourself. Make friends.
  3. Pep in your step: always stand ready to engage with people. Sitting at the stand is a big No No! Get in shape in advance by getting sufficient sleep and enjoy a healthy energy diet.
  4. Engage: some people are naturally shy and may avoid your stand or walk by with eyes averted. You have to be active. Stand out in the aisle. Say hello. Draw people in with a leaflet or an engaging question. Most people love it when you give them time and needed information.
  5. Interesting product demo: this is always a winner (live or on video). Help customers to dream and think ‘Yes, this is for me!’.
  6. Special prices: visitors nowadays expect special reduced prices for exhibitions, fairs, etc. Don’t disappoint them. Make sure there is a price list on display.
  7. Eyes, ears, and mind wide open: observe what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not working. Learn, change, and do better.
  8. Build an email list: visitors love to leave their name and email address if there is a prize on offer. It could be your own product or something attractive (e.g. tickets for an event or a weekend away).

Post-event review

  1. Follow up: with all new contacts and on all promises made – within a few days.
  2. Email list: if you collected a list, your first communication should be within a week. Its focus should be to thank, to educate, to entertain, and not a hard sell. At the end, you could perhaps extend the special exhibition prices for a limited period, as an exclusive offer.
  3. Learn: talk to your colleagues. Talk to yourself. Compare all the outcomes with the initial written objectives – level of engagement, size of email list, revenue, costs, insights, important new contacts. What worked for you? What didn’t? How can you improve the next event?

Best wishes for your future success!

About the author

Richard Mc Manus Cara Mara Seaweed baths New Frontiers alumnus

Richard Mc Manus

New Frontiers participant, Richard Mc Manus, is the founder of luxury seaweed bath brand Cara Mara. A veteran of the manufacturing and export industry, Richard is passionate about health and wellness, and has developed a seaweed product that can be enjoyed from the comfort and tranquillity of one’s own home… [Read Richard’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

WKI Developing your Market Attack Plan - in four steps New Frontiers

Developing your market attack plan in four steps

WKI Developing your Market Attack Plan - in four steps New Frontiers

So you’ve completed your market research and analysis. You’ve found a great opportunity to exploit. The solution you have will give you an edge over other approaches and will offer real value to the client. You’ve spent the last couple of months building out the team of advisors and have some friends who’ve agreed to help you with branding, marketing, helping to write a business plan or to get the financials together…

Everything looks great – you’ll definitely need 10 people on board within the next few years to support the €1 million turnover you’ve set as your year three target, especially as you’ll enter foreign markets towards the end of year two. Sound familiar?

But have you created your market attack plan? Have you set out credible steps along the journey that you will need to take to achieve your goals? Over the past few years I’ve coached some of our Phase 2 participants to develop this plan. I use a commercialisation tool developed by WKI to structure the sessions.

WKI Commercialisation methodology

Step 1

We begin by reviewing the participant’s proposed target segments. We also look at the customer profile for each segment (who will use it, who will buy it, how they will use it, what the buy decision is, what motivates the user and what motivates the buyer, etc.). These have been identified by market research conducted to date and have been ranked into an ordered list of segments to target.

Step 2

We then discuss lead customers; these are early adopters who should be willing and eager to try a new idea even if it is in development. You are looking for someone who will collaborate with you to test, suggest, and mould your early stage idea into a customer-ready product for later stage customers.

A question to ask: are the lead customers from our identified target segments? If not, why not? If we can’t get someone from our target segment who will try our solution then has our market research been correct to date? Have we really identified the correct market? It may seem obvious but it does happen that the promoter has profiled a market opportunity in great detail yet introduces clients from different segments without clear reasoning. This can lead to a loss of credibility in the proposal, i.e. does the promoter really know who the customer is?

Step 3

So, having identified the lead customer we next set out what initiatives will be undertaken to advance the idea down the path to market. Each initiative should reflect the stage of development of the solution as well as the commercial roll out. That is why I usually have one or two lead-in steps such as demonstrator stage, prototype stage, before introducing the second and third target segments and beyond moving towards category leadership. Especially when working with start-ups. I also find that the first session specs out the first couple of development steps only. The promoters tend to need a break at this point as for further stages it becomes too vague or harder to define concrete initiatives and measures of success.

Step 4

Profile the risks. All plans have an element of risk associated with them, it is both natural and expected. Stakeholders will want to know that you are aware of potential risks and have prepared a plan to mitigate them should they occur. For early-stage businesses risks associated with technical, market, financial and people should be considered with each stage of the company’s proposed development.  These should also be summarised on the market attack plan.

Market Attack PlanSo what? Who cares? Why you?

Let’s work through an example of what a market attack plan may look like:

Stage – Demonstrator Timing: Month 1 & 2

Major initiative:

  • Update promoter’s LinkedIn profile and purchase premium package for 2 months
  • Build mock-up demonstrator using MarvelApp, CAD, Animation, etc.
  • Get 4 – 5 meetings with potential lead customers to review

Measure of success:

  • 2 customers agree to pilot a prototype

Risks:

  • Unable to secure demonstration meetings

Resources:

  • In-house resources, travel costs and LinkedIn Premium only

Funded bBy:

  • Promoter’s funds

Stage – Prototype Timing: Months 3 to 6

Major initiative:

  • Agree framework for prototype stage with lead customers
  • Develop working prototype – to agreed limited features/command set
  • Company formation

Measure of success:

  • 1 – 2 customers agree to purchase
  • 2 – 3 new customers agree to pilot

Risks:

  • Unable to secure sufficient funding

Resources:

  • In-house resources and travel costs
  • Outsourced tech development – €20- 30K

Funded by:

  • LEO Feasibility Funding / New Frontiers stipend
  • Innovation voucher – for algorithm generation
  • Promoter’s funds & friends/angels

Stage – Market Entry Timing: Months 6 to 18

Major initiative:

  • Secure incubation tenancy
  • Hire CTO and first in-house developer
  • Sales and Marketing hires x 2
  • On-board the first 2 customers
  • Invest in CRM package
  • Complete technical development
  • Attend 1 – 3 national exhibitions and secure speaking slots
  • Start Next Round funding process

Measure of success:

  • Customer income secured – €200k
  • 2 – 3 new customers signed each quarter
  • First segment 2 customers acquired
  • CE Marking, Safety and Compliance certifications secured

Risks:

  • Delays on-boarding key hires
  • Development overruns
  • Delays securing sufficient funding
  • New entrants

Resources:

  • €400K funding requirement (18 months runway)

Funded by:

  • EI Competitive Start Funding
  • EI HPSU Funding
  • Irish VC Funding Delta/Kernel, etc.

Why is this approach important?

There are a number of reasons to use this approach:

  1. For the promoter, it helps break down into manageable steps the road to market entry. It also helps non-financial founders align the sales and marketing, operations and financial requirements of the business for stage of development – which is great when producing three year cash flow projections.
  2. For team members, it provides them with clarity as to what the outcome from each stage of development is. It can also help them see where the business is headed.
  3. For the business plan reader, it summarises what resources are required at each stage and what the output will be in terms of headcount (support agency focus) or monetary gains (investor focus).

So give it a go. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be and what a difference this simple tool can make to developing your company’s market entry strategy.

About the author

Garrett-Duffy-New-FrontiersGarrett Duffy

Garrett is the New Frontiers Programme Manager at Dundalk Institute of Technology, and a WKI Certified Coach. He has a background in engineering and has lectured in information systems, computer applications and new venture creation. He has been the Enterprise Development Manager at DkIT’s Regional Development Centre since 2007… [Read Garrett’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Value Proposition and Channel to Market New Frontiers

Value proposition and channel to market

Value Proposition and Channel to Market New Frontiers

We all know that setting up a new business is almost always an uncertain journey, one that can bring enormous swings, from exhilaration one day to doubt and fear the next. There are many reasons why we subject ourselves to this stress – creating a job for ourselves, escaping dull or unsuitable work, a bad boss, or just the simple desire for increased wealth. After all, who would not wish to achieve financial independence?

The entrepreneurial rollercoaster

The chance to create something from nothing, to see an idea in your head develop and work, either in the form of a new service or new product, is incredibly motivating and, when successful, enormously satisfying. “I did it my way” as the song goes. This is the entrepreneurial rollercoaster of business startups. Managing these emotions is important if we want to banish doubt and remain upbeat, confident and committed to our project.

Managing the bad days

While in the set-up stage of my first venture, a tourism business, a very well respected and established player in the market from Sligo declared that he would ‘eat his hat’ if my business worked in Co Laois! This was at my first trade fair in Germany and, for a 23 year old, this was massively undermining and stuck with me.

We need a coat of armor to protect us on bad days like this or to silence natural self-doubt and banish the demons. Luckily, this coat of armor can be built by using solid ‘good business practice’ at the earliest stage in the venture.

The well-known business writer, Joan Margeratta, ventured that you can distil any business down to two key foundational elements – value proposition and channel to market. This rings true in my experience. Yes, there are many other elements that we need and will need in time, but, to start with, these two elements are critical. Properly validated, they constitute solid business practice that will give you confidence and ensure you are more likely to succeed. It is also something that investors will demand if you are seeking finance pre- revenue.

Value proposition and channel to market

The best way for me to explain what I think is required in terms of validating a value proposition and a channel to market is through explaining the process I went through in developing and bringing to market a new domestic kitchen vacuum – Sweepovac.

By way of context, it took a subsequent four years of product development and market entry to get initial traction. That’s four years of uncertainty, challenges and obstacles. I definitely needed a thick coat of armor to get me through this, to give me the conviction to persevere!

Validation

This validation process was simple common sense really. First, we created the cheapest simplest prototype version possible of something that looked and acted like the finished product. We then tested it on end users – homeowners. We set up with this prototype for 3 days in 3 different retail settings – a hardware shop, a kitchen showroom and an electrical retailer spread across rural and urban centers. Over the three days we surveyed 100 people with a 15 question form using a Likert scale. This showed that 87% of people were positive and liked the product. A critical takeaway was, however, that within this group of 17% who absolutely ‘got it’ and were very enthusiastic, 13% had no interest.

Channel to market

Next, I needed to test the channel to market to see if we could deliver the product in the right retail environment, at the right price and at the right time.

I interviewed 20 kitchen retailers, some with retail chains, and the three largest distributors to these retailers. For each group, I had a different questionnaire that set out to establish their interest, their willingness to take on the proposed product and their views on pricing and margin structure.

The results showed that 70% would display, but with varying levels of enthusiasm and that the expected price should be between €90 and €220.

The result

I drew two key conclusions. The first was that 17%, and possibly more, of kitchen buyers would potentially purchase the product if it was presented in the right retail environment, at the right price and at the right time. The second was that there was enough interest among retailers and distributors to ensure that we could present it in the right environment at the right time. I also had strong guidance that I needed to get the manufacturing price down based on the feedback on the retail prices.

Key takeaway

Attempting to launch a new startup is usually, if not always, high risk with dramatic ups and downs. My key message is this: early and solid validation of your value proposition and your channel to market gives you a far greater chance of success and a coat of armour to help weather the process. It will allow you to focus on delivering, on problem solving and help stop you doubting the road you have chosen or second guessing yourself.

It takes bravery to launch a new start up or transform an existing business, it is usually if not always high risk with dramatic ups and downs. Mentoring has given me a wonderful opportunity to meet great people, to learn, to share and to to be part of their journey.

With regards to the gentleman from Sligo, I never had the opportunity to present him with his hat and some salt. The tourism business ran successfully for 13 years, was sold as a going concern in 2005 and still operates today.

About the author

Henry Fingleton Sweepovac New Frontiers
Henry Fingleton

Henry Fingleton is an Enterprise Ireland mentor and the founder of Sweepovac. In total, he is responsible for six startup companies, which has given him a  thorough understanding of the entrepreneurial process. This insight helps him develop and apply appropriate business strategies… [Read Henry’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Business strategy why it matters and how to do it

Business strategy: why it matters and how to do it

Business strategy why it matters and how to do it

Years ago, when the internet was in its infancy, I was part of a study group that developed a business plan for Intergift, an online shop that would sell books, CDs and other ‘gifts’, complete with reminders for birthdays, anniversaries. Sounds familiar? A year later, Jeff Bezos would start a company called Amazon in his garage.

The point is that loads of people have a great idea. It’s the people who make a decision to prioritise and act on the idea – and then stay with it – who reap the rewards. We did actually set up a company and made some attempts to get something off the ground. However, looking back, what prevented us delivering on a great idea was not dedicating enough time to it and not setting ourselves any goals or action plan, which all resulting in us just not doing it.

Why strategy?

The starting point for a lot of organisations is that people are too busy working away at an operational level making day-to-day things happen. Sometimes, people think they have a common understanding of where the organisation is going, but often – with some probing – it becomes clear that they don’t. Often, ideas about what the organisation might do to support growth are floating around and are either not acted upon at all, or are acted on in an ad hoc way, depending on the forcefulness of the originator of the idea. The development of a proper strategy has the effect of facilitating a common understanding of where the organisation is going, how it’s going to get there and what goals and action are required to make that happen. A lovely analogy I’ve seen is that of a magnet lining all the iron filings up to point in the same direction.

There are various schools of thought on how important goal-setting is in achieving results. Some argue that if you have a strong vision, everything else will fall into place; others, to varying degrees, argue for the necessity of setting goals and developing action plans to deliver those goals. While I’ve no doubt that people have achieved amazing things through vision alone, setting goals and developing action plans generally provides focus and yields better and faster results.

What do you want?

Consider how you would answer the following questions:

  • What’s your organisation’s VISION?
    That is, what change do you want to see in the world?
  • What’s your MISSION?
    In other words, what is your role in that change?
  • What’s your TOP LEVEL GOAL?
    What is your more specific, measurable, time-bound goal?
  • What STRATEGY are you going to pursue to deliver on that mission?
    What strategic objectives will you set to support that overall strategy? What actions are necessary and when? Who else needs to be involved? How will you measure success?

What’s important to you?

But before embarking on any of this, it’s important to ensure that what you’re setting out to do is in harmony with your values.

Values are principles, standards or qualities we hold to be important. Those cited frequently include integrity, innovation, and family… however, there are a whole host of possibilities, for example: money, success, freedom and loyalty. There is no point in pursuing a mission or goal that conflicts with your organisational values as, eventually, something will give, so it is very important to spend some time identifying values upfront. For example, if conservation or environmental protection is a priority for your organisation, then pursuing goals that conflict with these will not sit well and is unlikely to be successful.

How to build a strategy – the process

Once you’ve defined your values, you can work your way through the process shown, determining your vision and your mission, as defined above. For example, your vision may be that the expected standard of coffee in Ireland would be the same as that in New Zealand and your mission may be to be recognised as the best local cafe(s) in Ireland. Then, it helps to step back and do some analysis, both of the context and of your organisation. What’s the environment like? What forces are at play? What are the key success factors for the industry? How well do you perform versus your competitors? A gap analysis will highlight the knowledge, skills and resources that will help you get from A to B, but also the constraints within which you may have to operate.

There are some great tools to help analysis and understanding of your organisation, for example, a simple SWOT analysis, Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, and the ‘Prevailing Logic’ tool.

Next, step back again and take some time to generate some ideas for possible goals and actions that will help you achieve your mission. Again, there are lots of possible approaches, but good old-fashioned brainstorming with a pen and some post-its is still very effective.

It’s now time to define your top level goal – what’s a time-bound, measurable goal you can set yourself in pursuit of your mission? For example, you may decide that you will open your first cafe in Dublin in one year’s time, or that you will have X cafes with a specific profit in 3 years’ time. What’s your strategy to get there – i.e. how are you going to get there? Set yourself five or six smaller strategic objectives – they might be concerned with finance, sourcing of premises, hiring good staff, barista training, roasting training, sourcing of equipment, sourcing of beans – the key is that they, together, will deliver your top level goal and that they are measurable and time-bound.

This is also the time to agree on what you’re NOT going to do. There may well be fantastic ideas generated at the brainstorming phase that have to be parked – the team will have to prioritise and agree what is feasible within agreed resource constraints; what needs to be increased, reduced and eliminated in order to create. No organisation has infinite resources and in order to effectively pursue agreed strategic objectives, it is essential that resources do not get pulled six months down the line to work on someone’s latest hobby horse. Unless, of course, there is an agreed change in strategy.

Action plan

Referring back to the ideas generated during your brainstorming, define the actions necessary to deliver on each of your 5-6 Strategic Objectives.  You can download a template to help you organise the action items under each strategic objective from my website. What’s important is that you have the resources to pursue the actions and that you set yourself targets and milestones. It’s also advisable to decide on a small number of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that measure how well you’re doing on a month-by-month basis. The downloadable template can be used as a live document to track progress and KPIs.

It’s worth spending a bit of time at this stage considering the risks to your plan and working out some contingency plans.

Review

As many have said before me, “…the only sure thing is change,” so there’s nothing surer than the fact that your plan will require adapting at some stage. In fact, being flexible and being able to respond to changing circumstances is a strength, so periodic review of your plan is important, not just to ensure that you are on track but to ensure that what you’re pursuing and what you’re doing are still relevant.

New Frontiers -Business strategy process - Mary Carroll

Maintaining action

The biggest challenge many organisations face is implementation. All too often, they get sucked back into spending all their time on day-to-day operational issues. Dedicating the required resources, accountability and periodic review of the strategic action plan is absolutely critical – otherwise the strategy document will just gather dust on a shelf.

One of the big advantages of determining your mission, setting strategic objectives and detailing an action plan is that all actions should lead back to your mission. Having an action plan allows you to question whether what you’re doing right now is going to bring you closer to your mission. If not, why are you doing it?

About the author

Mary Carroll New Frontiers

Mary Carroll

Mary Carroll is a business strategist and coach with over 25 years’ experience in design engineering, management consulting and business development. She is also an Enterprise Ireland mentor… [Read Mary’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

New Frontiers Business expansion scaling your startup

Business expansion: scaling your startup

New Frontier s Business expansion scaling your startup

Any small company that has tried to expand will tell you that it’s a tricky business! Expansion – whether it’s increasing the number of staff, adding new product lines or more retail locations – brings an array of potential problems and headaches.

The risks of scaling your business are real, and they are as problematic for young startups as they are for large, established companies. But, in identifying the risks, you can work out solutions, learn from others who have faced the same challenges, and become more confident in forging on with your business expansion plans and strategies.

For my own startup, the Irish Biltong Company, our expansion plans are continually growing as new markets present themselves to us. I’ve found that the key is to identify the correct markets and grow in that direction. Here are my top tips for successfully growing your startup:

Maintain a healthy balance

Some business owners (and I was of this frame of mind for a while) think that business expansion is not going to affect their family life, their health, or their personal finances; and that they can be separated from the ongoing pressures of growing the business. Well, I have found that this is definitely not the case! One major change I have made in recent times is to safeguard myself against poor health by getting regular exercise, eating well and spending quality time (vs. quantity time) with family members. This is as important as anything else.

Prepare the whole team for growth

Business growth and expansion brings pressures to your daily systems, and your current structure and team may not have had the time or experience to get geared up for increased production or services due to a sudden growth in demand for your product. Our team had to increase production rapidly to cope with the influx of new sales over a short period of time. Luckily, we were prepared for this potential growth from the beginning and had production capacity schedules to call on and put into action. The team were motivated to deal with this quick growth and it was all hands on deck!

Keep an eye on cash flow

Cash flow is critical to successful expansion, as new timings of payables and receivables can cause financial strain. When expanding and increasing production, it is really important that the daily cash flow is strictly monitored to insure that your company can maintain its daily out. Cash is king – we’ve all heard this saying and it is more true today than ever before, especially for a small business expanding. A healthy profit may look nice on your financial statements, but if capital expenditures or extending credit terms are draining your cash, you won’t be able to stay in business for long.  Too often, small business owners fail to focus enough on cash flow generation. For small businesses, handling business accounting and taxes may be within the capabilities of the business owners, but professional help is usually a good idea. Getting assistance with managing cash and the bookkeeping can allow you to excel when others are calling it quits.

Think about customer service

When focusing on growth and rushing to meet a rise in demand, customer service can sometimes slip. As a company who prides itself on customer service levels it was crucial that we ensured the continuing level of service to our loyal customers whilst bringing new customers on board. Smartphones, social media, texting, email, Twitter and other communication channels are making it easy for businesses and individuals to get their messages out. Figuring out the right marketing channels is key for businesses to be successful in the future. These channels are equally valuable when it comes to customer service.

We quickly identified that our key customers were avid users of Twitter and Instagram. By running polls and asking for feedback from our followers, we were able to identify what new aspects of our existing products these customers wanted. Identifying what our customers want and doing a better job of giving it to them has made all the difference in our expansion and planning for the future.

Take employees with you

Employees can become uneasy about change. From the beginning of our business, we shared our vision of growth with our employees. We stirred in them the passion for growth and productivity that we needed to push forward and develop our products. We identified and made the need for change well-known throughout the business. We also facilitated ownership of this change by involving employees in the planning and implementation processes. We encouraged them to offer suggestions of solutions to problems that arose from our scaling activities. We gave genuine regard to the concerns of our employees, and we put procedures in place to monitor the effects of change.

There’s no one way to scale a business, but by ensuring you have the right vision and culture in place, backed by strong procedures, you’ll give yourself the best chance of success. Strong leadership is important, but so it taking your team and your customer base along with you. Our business is growing and, as a team, so are we!

About the author

Noreen DoyleIrish Biltong - Noreen Doyle - New Frontiers

Noreen Doyle is a New Frontiers past participant, and the co-founder and CEO of Irish Biltong Co. The company produces an award-winning, 100% Irish, gourmet beef snack that is a favourite of sportspeople and nutrition experts around the country… [Read Noreen’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

becoming an expert in your field new frontiers advice

Startup PR: increasing awareness and becoming an expert

becoming an expert in your field new frontiers advice

For new businesses, raising brand awareness is the key to building a community of fans and driving sales. A good way to do this is to highlight the expertise of the founder or co-founders with public appearances and authoritative content. 

When I started Mummy Cooks, there was no such thing as a ‘weaning expert’ in Ireland. By virtue of being the first person to start talking about this topic, I became the weaning and feeding expert – initially for Eumom and then for MummyPages. I also became the weaning expert for the Pregnancy & Baby fair; talking at events in Dublin, Belfast and Cork.

In order to promote my fledgling business, I started to work on my PR. I have a friend who helps me write up my press releases, and then I contact the various media contacts myself to see if they’re interested in the story. This personal touch goes a long way. I’ve also found it useful to reach out to mums in the media – I send my products to new mums and they almost always feature me in their magazine or paper.

Getting on television

I’ve also been able to get some appearances on TV, which has been incredibly helpful to the brand. My daughter and I appeared on a few slots on Ireland Am, and then on RTE’s Today. Often, openings like these are down to luck, and being in the right place at the right time. However, it’s also about creating these opportunities and putting yourself out there. In my case, the RTE appearance came about because I was producing online content for the RTE Food website. We were filming a video for this, which the Today show producer saw, and he asked if I would come to Cork to cook on the show.

Being on TV wasn’t something I had ever thought about, or in fact wanted to do, but when it can drive traffic to your website you soon lose the nerves! Becoming an expert in a particular area means that you have to be confident when speaking about the topic. Contact the media and let them know that you are prepared to write about your subject area, or go on TV. Don’t be shy!

Blogging and content partnerships

I started writing blog posts about weaning and feeding young children, and we also started writing recipes. I saw an opportunity to share our content with other online content sites, so we partnered with media providers as a way to grow our brand without a huge marketing spend. I used my network to get an introduction to the content editor of RTE, and because she could see that we were already producing great content, she gave us a weekly slot on their website. They get our content, and in exchange we get links back to the website. We have nurtured similar partnerships with Xposé Parenting, MyDealDoc, SuperValu, MummyPages and GloHealth. We also recently took part in the Tesco Back to School campaign – creating recipes and food hacks for parents.

Increasing awareness of our brand does not lead to instant sales, and it has possibly been a slower road for us than if we had invested in direct marketing. But our hard work is now paying off, as we’ve been able to see with our recent food flask product launch… mums who had previously purchased from us or connected through our recipes have been buying this new product because they trust the brand. Sales since January have been really strong and we are now planning to launch other colours.

Engaging social media content

Social media is another place where you can build your reputation, and once again it’s about producing good quality content that’s helpful and raises awareness of your product. Here too, brand image is important, so on social media we pay attention to our message, language and image. We keep the way we write content consistent across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each post is friendly and helpful and I always sign it myself. Because I’m a mum of two young children, customers know that I’ve experienced the same issues around weaning and food as they have, and that helps to build trust.

I get emails every day from other mums asking if I can help them. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, so it’s important to seek professional advice from a doctor or dietitian if the problem persists. However, there are tactics and improvements I can share with them that can help. Simple things, like asking someone else to feed the child so that they don’t pick up on mum’s stress, can have a huge impact. Sharing these insights with other mums is an important part of what our brand is about, and it’s a great way to build our community of loyal fans.

Our next step is creating videos to get our message out there and drive product sales. This has been a difficult step, mostly down to cost. We’ve been focusing on growing organically, and we don’t have a large marketing budget to call on. At first, we went for a budget option, but the videos weren’t really in line with our expectations. It’s crucial when you’re building brand reputation in this way that everything fits with the image you are creating, so I’m always thinking about the overall brand experience. We were recommended another video producer, and although this time the cost was higher, we’re really happy with the results. We’ve created a series of recipe videos that back up our core messaging about weaning and show how useful our products are. These will be great for brand awareness, and we can share them with our media partners.

Choose opportunities carefully

Becoming an expert and raising awareness is as much about what you don’t do as anything else. For instance, I was asked to become a brand ambassador for a company that had had some very bad press. While I would have been well paid for it, I knew that there wouldn’t have been any positives for the brand image I had spent a long time building, and luckily I declined. Listen to your gut and if it feels wrong, don’t do it!

Also, be careful not to associate yourself with too many brands. Make sure the companies you partner with are a good fit in terms of their ethos as well as their relevance to what you do. You should also consider whether they want to partner with you because they are thinking about moving into your space in the future – in these cases there’s no point you giving them a boost just so that they can take over your market share!

Obviously, some partnerships come with financial compensation, and some don’t… so when doing any free promotion for other brands, think about how you will be able to build on it for the benefit of your own brand. For instance, I’ve done talks at baby & toddler events, which I’m happy to do for free because I’m able to present my products to an interested audience, and the organisers also promote our business on social media.

It’s all a case of balance. Although I do events for free, it is important to make sure you are getting enough back – for instance, that the audience is large enough and you will get good PR from it. In the past, I wasn’t always as cautious. I agreed to do one event on the basis that there would be lots of people attending and I was likely to make plenty of sales. I interrupted a family holiday to travel to the event, only to find that just four people had turned up.

Becoming an expert in your field is about looking for, and being open to, opportunities to talk about your expert topic and share your experiences. You’ll need to work on your confidence and be prepared to put yourself out there, of course! And the other key element is to consider any channel, and balance any offers you get, to make sure the opportunity is of benefit to your brand.

About the author

Siobhan Berry MummyCooks New Frontiers alumnaSiobhan Berry

Siobhan is a New Frontiers alumna and the founder of Mummy Cooks. Her startup has developed a range of storage solutions to help with weaning, and provides practical and simple feeding advice and recipes for the parents of young children… [Read Siobhan’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Supply versus demand: how to set your pricing

supply demand pricing startups New Frontiers Ireland

Pricing is one of the most difficult issues for new businesses, but it is also one of the most critical. While there are some general principles that should be applied by all businesses, there is no one size fits all model for setting prices.

Creating the right image through pricing

Pricing affects profit, but it also plays a major role in forming your brand’s image. Set your prices too high and you will be perceived as not offering good value for money, set prices too low and you may be perceived as cheap. The basic starting point for setting prices is an understanding of costs – you cannot sell your goods or services for less than the cost of production, at least not for very long.

Costs of production include the direct costs of each item of product or hour of service – such as raw materials and wages – but they also include longer term and indirect costs, such as rent and electricity. An element of profit should also be included as a cost when considering price. No one wants to be in business to just break even.

Looking at costs will give you a floor price below which you should not sell. It is better to do no business at all than to have a loss-making business. Up to this point in the process, pricing is a science dependent on good and accurate information about costs; the next steps are an art requiring judgement about how the market will react to your pricing decisions.

The context for your pricing

The next step for most businesses is to look at the competition and see what they are charging. Most small and new businesses see themselves as price takers. That is, they must charge what the market dictates. This may be true in some cases, but most small or new businesses should be able to use their greater flexibility to position themselves to charge a premium price.

This will depend on the product or service being sold. Every buyer wants the cheapest price when it comes to buying a commodity item (something that is the same no matter where you buy it), but not every item is a commodity.

Everyone wants the cheapest sofa, but no one wants to get their hair done by the cheapest hairdresser in town. How do you know which hairdresser is best? Well, it is probably not the cheapest. The price a supplier charges sends out a strong signal about the quality of the goods or services supplied. There are many areas where buyers want the best they can afford – no one wants the second-best lawyer, for example. And even looking at sofas, people want quality at a price, not just the cheapest on the market.

Charging an adequate price

Charging an adequate price also allows a supplier to pay for a good after-sales or support service, thus reinforcing the quality perception. Where a sale is made at a break-even cost, there is no room to deal with any customer queries that may arise after the sale. The idea that price sends a signal about the quality of the goods or services being offered should be included in every business’s approach to price setting. No business wants to be perceived as expensive, but being seen as cheap is also damaging.

Each business must balance the too-expensive v too-cheap seesaw for themselves, but it helps to understand the needs of your own business. In approaching the issue of price, a business needs to understand its own limiting constraints. It is all very well to charge as low a price as possible if you can increase your output almost infinitely at little or no cost, such as may be possible with a software product or if you have a large number of air plane seats to fill.

Many businesses, however, have staffing, premises or other constraints to resolve before they can increase production; for businesses in this position, increased pricing may allow them to grow profits working within existing constraints.

As a last idea to consider we have the supply versus demand curve beloved of economists. On the left hand side – where the price is low – there are lots of buyers, but nobody wants to sell. On the right hand side – where the price is high – everybody wants to sell, but there are not many buyers. In the theory, the equilibrium point at the middle is where buyers and sellers meet.

Price v quality New Frontiers Supply Demand

For a small or new business, this diagram shows something else: that there are a small number of buyers who are willing to pay a premium price. There can be profit in addressing these buyers, offering them a reason why they should buy from you rather than at the market price. This may be a better service, branded product or simply a higher price.

Key considerations for pricing

  • Costs set a floor for pricing
  • Pricing sends a message
  • Know your own business constraints
  • There are premium buyers out there

To illustrate these ideas more fully, I thought it would be helpful to share a case study. The names are changed and some of the details reflect experience with more than one business, but the case study does fairly reflect actual events.

Case study: setting pricing for a quality systems company

The problem

Jason had a quality systems design implementation and training business. Jason himself is highly qualified and very experienced in designing and implementing quality systems within a specialised area. His business employed himself and three other people: Jason as a consultant, two associates and an admin person.

Jason would hold an initial meeting with clients and design a solution to meet their requirements. One of his associates would then implement Jason’s design.

Jason was working 70+ hours per week and feeling overwhelmed when he came to me. The obvious first question was: why not hire more staff? Jason felt that what he needed was another consultant at his level, but that the cost would be considerable and the extra income would not be all that much, as a new employee could not be expected to do the 70 hour weeks that Jason was doing.

While expanding the staff was considered as desirable in the medium term, some change was needed in the short term. We looked at the company’s income. Jason was charging 50 hours per week to clients and his two associates were charging nearly 40 hours each. Clearly, there was a limiting constraint in terms of available hours.

The analysis

I suggested that a fresh look at pricing was needed. The business was profitable, though not as profitable as it should have been. Due to the long hours worked at the operations end of the business, very little attention was being paid to cost control. Any issue that arose was solved by throwing money at it.

We looked at the other suppliers that Jason was in competition with. The market involved one major company with about 25% of the market and a number of smaller businesses similar to Jason’s, none with more than 5% market share. Their pricing was opaque, none had a published set of daily rates as they all priced each job individually.

We then looked at Jason’s customers. They were all strong businesses in an expansion phase looking to beef-up their quality controls. I suggested to Jason that they were all potentially premium customers, willing to pay a good price if they were convinced that Jason could deliver a better service than his competitors.

The solution

As a result of this review, Jason increased his rates by 50%. While this certainly increased profits, Jason considered that that was not the most important benefit. The additional revenue allowed him to hire a second consultant and a third associate. He is now working 50 hours, rather than 70 hours, per week himself and devoting his energies to developing the business – with a lot less time taken up in firefighting.

Although Jason did loose some customers, he has a much better relationship with the customers he retained and he has seen no slowdown in new enquires or new business. The increased level of service that Jason can provide to his customers allows him to pitch his company as the best in the business, effectively being seen as the premium supplier with the major company seen as the bulk supplier.

About the author


Patrick O Flaherty New FrontiersPatrick O Flaherty

Patrick is a business consultant and Enterprise Ireland mentor. His expertise spans areas such as financing and funding, as well as business development and internal structures and processes – with a particular focus on projections, business plans, costings and pricing… [Read Patrick’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

UK markets and beyond: think before you leap

startup expansion international New Frontiers

The United Kingdom represents Ireland’s single largest export market, providing significant opportunities for ambitious and growth-focused companies. The UK market is a natural overseas destination for Irish businesses looking to expand and is viewed by the Irish Government as a key export region for our economic recovery.

Not only is the UK one of Ireland’s most important trade partners, but its geographical proximity and cultural similarities make expansion into the UK easier for Irish businesses… on paper, anyway.

There is no doubting that both regions share common characteristics. However, the strategic and operational approach that needs to be adopted in, say, Dublin versus Manchester, or marketing and selling to the public sector in the UK versus that of Ireland differs greatly. In my experience, too many home-grown companies treat the UK as an extension of their Irish market place and are left wondering where it all went wrong or why they did not achieve the progress and success in the UK that they had originally anticipated.

Some common mistakes best avoided

  • Rushing in and not carrying out adequate market research and planning from a quality perspective
  • Underestimating the cost of go-to-market and in-country activities e.g. number of meetings, travel, accommodation, etc.
  • Underestimating the timelines required to achieve success – leading to frustration & impatience
  • Assuming the length of your product, solution or service sales cycle will be the same as that experienced in Ireland
  • Not being cognoscente of the subtle cultural differences and buying behaviours, patterns and preferences
  • Spreading yourself thin by attempting to cover too much geography too soon – this is very common mistake; travelling to a meeting from Dublin to Galway is not the same as travelling between, for instance, Bristol and Norwich

In order to provide you and your organization with the best chance of success in your UK target market, there are key considerations and activities that must be taken on board prior to, during and after market entry. As many of you will be aware from day-to-day experience, getting domestic business decisions wrong or merely misjudging them can prove costly. This experience will be amplified significantly in the UK.

Therefore, a well thought out market entry and market activation plan is essential.

Think before you leap

Some organizations enter new markets and pursue a large contract or opportunity based on a loose strategy commonly referred to as ‘gut feel’. Over the years, I’ve heard many explanations of UK market entry decisions – based on what can only be termed as misguided assumptions, such as:

“We’ve grown our business in a small market like Ireland, so imagine what we can do in the UK.”

“Let’s open an office and see how we get on. Sure how difficult can it be?”

“They speak the same language and we are only an hour away by plane.”

“We have been looking after one customer in Leicester so let’s get over there and sign the rest of them up.”

This type of logic would never be entertained if it was the US, China or mainland Europe that was under consideration – so the strong advice is to adopt the same mindset when looking at our nearer neighbour.

Evaluate, activate, execute

This three step approach ensures you challenge your beliefs and try find answers to important questions that will help to support you before, during and after market entry…

Market evaluation

Have you:

  • assessed the overall market opportunity and size, defining your specific target market(s) by sector, region, company, etc.?
  • decided on the level of resources required to maximize the market opportunity?
  • developed a clear and compelling value proposition?
  • identified your ideal customer across selected criteria?
  • gained a clear understanding of your buyer behaviour and expected sales cycle?
  • decided on where and how you need to differentiate against the competition?
  • considered the most effective channels to promote and sell to your ideal customer?

Market activation

Have you:

  • created a sales delivery plan with clear accountability and ownership?
  • introduced key performance metrics and milestone management?
  • adopted the most appropriate market awareness campaign?
  • aligned internal sales, marketing and product team(s)?
  • introduced a sales and pipeline management process?
  • successfully recruited and on-boarded UK sales or partner representation?

Market execution and management

Are you:

  • actively reviewing and monitoring sales progress?
  • constantly driving the critical few activities?
  • being effective with the remote management of UK employees and partners?
  • expanding your customer/partner base?
  • planning for the next growth phase?

The above are far from exhaustive lists of considerations, however hopefully some of the content and tips will prove helpful and be of some value to any organization with an eye on the UK – or any overseas market for that matter. As they say, the only source of knowledge is experience and I am happy to have shared some of mine.

About the author

Barry Moylan New FrontiersBarry Moylan

Barry is an Enterprise Ireland mentor and the co-founder and Director of Dublin-based Sales Transitions Ltd. With 25 years’ experience in sales, leadership and executive coaching, Barry works with companies of all sizes to deliver strategic and operational sales growth… [Read Barry’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

International growth: how to get started

globes

International growth is not the same as getting beta customers in your home market – to sell overseas, you’ll need to be able to scale your sales acquisition, and service and manage all the possible agents and resellers in the market. This article will illustrate the major points your startup should be aware of and how you can best position yourself for international growth

The international growth ‘toolkit’

Startups today have to think in terms of international growth pretty much from day one. However, it involves a very different set of skills than the one it takes to achieve the first beta customer in your own market – skills more aligned to scaling growth, and managing customers and intermediaries at a distance. We’ll look at how to achieve those first international customers and then how to consider the major intermediaries – agents, wholesalers, and resellers – that you might take on and looking out for key differences and watchpoints for your international growth strategy.

Startups today are growth-oriented, and it helps your vision and investment narrative to be so. However, it is useful to look at some scaling international companies to see some of the effects that international growth has had on their product/service offering.

The US example

Looking at US companies, language is an interesting issue. For their home markets (which remember, might be a state such as California with ~38 million people), a common English language allows them to scale to much larger markets than a European or Asian equivalent.  When they do start to internationalise, they manage their UX very carefully (for instance, by using symbols and pictures such as an envelope to indicate mailbox, or an avatar to represent personal settings). This leads them to think about customer onboarding, which might involve the delivery of online training and certification, like the Salesforce University.

Looking again to the US for a lead in this subject, we can look at large urban regions as proxies for our international efforts. If a startup operates in the Los Angeles area, they have a population equivalent to the Netherlands and Belgium within two hours, or in the New York region, a population equivalent to the UK within three hours.  Think in these city terms as you internationalise in Europe. The UK is too broad a target to have as a vision, try a market entry point such as Manchester/Liverpool or Newcastle/Edinburgh – two regions with populations (i.e. a market) the size of about 5 Million people. This gives you an accessible target to aim for.

Understanding and managing your network

Internationalising will offer you many options to scale your customer acquisition, from agents, wholesalers, distributors, and resellers. All good options, if you appreciate the differences between them and manage them as tightly as you would your first customer. Essentially, their roles can be defined as follows:

  • Agents – they will act on your behalf and get a margin of the sale
  • Wholesalers – they will buy your product and sell it on to their network
  • Distributors – they will move your product to customers but won’t buy your product off you in advance
  • Resellers – they will have authority to act for themselves, selling your product directly and passing a margin back to you

As you can see, there are significant differences in who owns the product, who tracks the cashflows and who owns the actual customer.

Filling the gaps in your knowledge

Finally, it is worth noting that doing or operating business internationally exposes you to risks that are not that easy to ignore, such as different legal codes, local practices and competitive bidding that you might not be used to. It is hoped that you probably do achieve early market adoption in your home market, allowing you to somewhat perfect your product-market fit, achieve seed funding and get good legal, corporate finance and taxation advisors with good experience in international markets.

In technical sales, enterprise sales and equivalent, international sales also means a harder-to-reach customer in terms of training, development, the understanding of their actual usage and remoteness from up- and cross-selling. On the other hand, international sales means that you are able to compete with local players in the market, suggesting you have a defendable and sustainable USP.

Remember though, that internationalisation is not a goal in itself for your startup – it is a process that needs to be managed, in the same way as marketing or product development, so that you can build value for your customers, your investors, and your team.

About the author

Alan Costello New FrontiersAlan Costello

Alan is a business development consultant, and a mentor and trainer for Enterprise Ireland and the New Frontiers programme. Alan’s company, Ruby Consulting, specialises in services such as strategy & innovation, marketing & key sales support, investment finance, social enterprise and community development… [Read Alan’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Sign up for our newsletter!
Get the latest from the blog and updates from the New Frontiers community.
We will never share your information or spam you.
Open

Enterprise Ireland's national entrepreneur development programme Register your interest