As Sir Richard Branson famously said: “No new business is worth starting in these times unless it can go global.
As Sir Richard Branson famously said: “No new business is worth starting in these times unless it can go global.” While it’s all well and good for the billionaire serial-entrepreneur to assert this, for many small and medium businesses, the reality of expanding globally presents many barriers which are difficult to overcome.
Traditionally, for a business to have a global reach, it had to be a large enterprise-level operation with extensive resources, both financially and in terms of personnel, to overcome the barriers that go hand-in-hand with entering a new market. Such challenges include acquiring new customers, recruiting and staffing local operations, acquiring local regulatory knowledge and expertise, and having the right technology and telecommunications infrastructure – which, when combined, meant a significant financial outlay only warranted for large scale enterprises.
Today, however, digital innovation has allowed Branson’s prophecy to be more accessible and achievable without deep pockets and vast resources.
The explosion of cloud-based infrastructure and global telecommunications innovations have lowered the barriers for businesses and made global scalability a more level playing field. With technology as the enabler, it is much easier for small to medium businesses to expand into once-inaccessible international markets. Now SMB’s can have access to the same enterprise-grade technology as their larger counterparts, which they can adopt and implement at a fraction of the price and time that it could have cost to build and develop their infrastructure from scratch.
The move towards cloud-based platforms for everything from email to CRM to ERP and even telephony, means that small businesses can launch into a foreign market with little more than a laptop, a phone and an internet connection.
iPad point-of-sale solution provider, NoblyPOS, is one example of a business that has used cloud-based technology to help it expand into new markets. Earlier this year the company integrated Natterbox’s cloud telephony platform to enable it to deliver 24/7 customer service to its growing customer base which is present in over 25 different countries.
While the availability of business infrastructure and technology has not completely removed all barriers to international expansion, it has greatly reduced some key challenges.
Historically, the largest barrier to entry into a new market for any business was their ability to acquire and properly service local customers. Virtual infrastructures mean that businesses can now operate in an efficiently connected, global business environment that can rapidly and effectively create a physical or virtual local presence. A business can now use the likes of social media-targeted advertising and a cloud-based CRM to effectively capitalise on highly-localised market dynamics to find and service their customers.
Technology and telecommunications infrastructure
Centralised global applications for communications, information and process management including telephony and email have greatly reduced the barriers to deploying a new local market presence. Cloud-based technologies mean that British-based businesses can now quickly deploy staff in remote locations with a complete system and process support.
24/7 customer service
Customer relationships are essential to the success of any new business venture or launch into a foreign market. Therefore, having a reliable, 24/7 customer platform that gives business’ the ability to connect with local customers and provide fast, personalised responses is a key driver of global success. Technology can enable an SMB to successfully scale its business, so it can cost-effectively and efficiently replicate sales and service delivery infrastructure. Cloud-based technologies, in particular customer service platforms and telephone systems, are the key enabler of business expansion as both a vehicle to deliver products and services and the infrastructure that will attract, engage, retain and grow customers in international markets.
Natterbox launched in 2010 to solve business telephony issues and bring voice into the digitised customer experience through a global cloud PBX service that captures and integrates voice into customer processes. Over 500 organisations around the world rely on Natterbox to set new standards in customer experience, drive measurable increases in sales efficiency, competitive advantage and organisational success. Customers include Groupon and Legal & General.