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Transitioning Your Business From a Start-up To an International Corporation A business can transform from being a start-up to a multinational company quickly, but just because it is possible does not mean that it is easy.

By Srivatsa KR

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Erik Buras/Studio B 13

Decades ago, starting a business was a lot harder than in today's technologically advanced world. You no longer need to start your business locally, with the same blueprint as everyone else. Instead, globalization and the use of Internet have made it possible to start functioning as a multinational corporation almost instantly. A business can transform from being a start-up to a multinational company quickly, at multiple locations simultaneously.

However, just because it is possible does not mean that it is easy. A multinational corporation needs generally more resources and a bigger workforce than a small start-up. In 2020, interest in global start-ups is higher than it has been ever before. In 2017 alone, investors put over $140 billion into global start-up companies.

Reza Shojaei is the founder of Value Marketing, a multinational company that has its headquarters in Malta. He points out that building a successful company that functions globally takes time. Rome was not built overnight—nor was a multinational, successful company.

You will make mistakes

If you are only starting out as an entrepreneur without any prior experience, the chances are that you will make many mistakes. However, this does not necessarily dictate the future or success of your company, as long as you correct your mistakes.

"I remember when I started my first company, I was very young and made many mistakes. But you should not let the previous mistakes direct your company's future. It's okay to make mistakes. Something that most entrepreneurs don't think about is that things take time. If you think it will be easy, it will ultimately make it harder to reach your goals. The passion for your business and being solution oriented is very important. Also, having a big plan for the product in your mind is vital, and each day you need take actions to reach the goal," Shojaei explains.

The hardest part in anything is taking the first step, and many never do, because they are afraid of taking the leap of faith. Mistakes are going to happen, and the first thing one has to do is to accept that.

According to Shojaei, sometimes changing the market a business operates in might even be in question. For instance, Value Marketing started operating as a face-to-face field marketing company, before it changed its business model to online-based iGaming related market. "Just like in anything else, change is good and sometimes necessary in the business world," he adds.

Another great example, he says, is the Finnish cellphone company, Nokia. Though they are widely known for their unbreakable cellphones, they did not start out as a phone company. Instead, they first made rubber boots. Though Nokia rubber boots did not quite capture the attention of the world, keeping up with the times and making necessary changes, Nokia managed to become a world-wide phenomenon.

Bring value to consumers and do something that others don't

Whether your goal is to expand your business into a multinational business or stay local, the key to success is bringing value to your customers. As a business, your product or service has to provide a solution to a problem and bring value to your customer. If your aim is to grow globally, the service or product must respond to the customers' need globally, too, he says.

Shojaei also underlines that you should bring something to the table that others don't. This helps your business to stand out from the rest.

The most important thing is to not only think about the money, but to think about the value you will bring for the customers. Also, how you will differentiate your company from the others plays a big role. If you want your business to stand out and do better than others, you have to offer something that others don't. "For instance, when we started out with CasinoTopp.net and CasinoTop.com, the most important thing for us was that we can proudly show our own names on the site as editor. In the online casino market, I have very rarely seen other online casino affiliate sites where the owner shows their real name and gives the option for the readers to contact them. I think this aspect was good for us when we started," Shojaei explains.

When people are put first, money follows, he believes. It is only a natural progression. As your business provides a viable solution or meets the need of consumers, they will do business with you. But when you make sure to put the people first, providing them with a great product or service, excellent shopping experience, and value for the money—that's when they will tell their friends. Ultimately, that is what you want.

Remember to have passion

Also, it is important to do something you have passion for. "Before, Value Marketing was a field marketing agency and I didn't have the same passion for it. It is easy to like something when things are good, but as soon as it gets hard and you need to fight to make things happen and keep your team motivated, you need that passion. As long you think something is fun and you see a place for that in the market, then it's a great opportunity," says Shojaei.

As passion drives our everyday lives, it also drives our businesses. Running a small start-up company that you do not have passion for is easy, but as you want to grow and reach markets globally, your passion for the market plays a big part. Pushing through the hard times is easier when you see your company as more than just your job.

Expand only at the right time

Starting up a company is exciting and growing it is an excellent goal. Expanding to multiple markets around the globe is the goal of many. However, it is important to keep in mind that entering multiple markets takes time. Also, the right timing is critical. Expanding your business almost always costs more money. Though it is true that to make money, you have to spend money, you should ensure that your company has a steady financial footing before taking it global.

Taking an online-based business global is simpler than taking a location-based to other countries. Online businesses already have a platform that will allow them to reach customers around the world. However, location-based businesses have a lot of more paperwork and logistics to think about. Sometimes, a business may need a physical location in the other country in order to operate.

A great example about this is Amazon, he says. It is an online-based business, but it cannot solely rely on basing its business in the continent of America. Shipping items around the world would be time-consuming, if each shipment was sent from the US. And as fast shipping is one of Amazon's key factors to success, opening storage and shipping locations in their target countries was vital.

Knowing when to expand your business to other countries is all about timing. In most cases, numbers and other statistics can help you to dictate when it is the correct time to put your foot in the door. For instance, as your business has steady profits and there is demand and need for your product in other countries, it may be time to dip your toe in the water.

Challenges are part of growth

Despite the size of your business, you will face challenges. There will be hard times, and harder times, before things get easier. However, when running a multinational company, there will be challenges and difficulties that local, small start-ups and businesses will never face. And you as a leader or a business owner need to prepare for them.

"We have offices in Norway, Malta, Bali and Israel, but we have copywriters all over the world. The most difficult thing is to have enough time to keep them all motivated. Also, at times, communication poses a big problem. For instance, our business meetings are held on Skype, and we have editorial meetings once a week, so all copywriters can discuss new content and what to write about. Many of our copywriters live in different time zones so when I'm going to bed, some copywriters are awake, and I need make sure they are taken care of. But it's all fun, and we recently hired the head of content who manages all of our copywriters. Also, our Bali office handles all design and development needs," Shojaei enlightens.

Opening other locations in different countries and taking your business global means that you will most likely have a bigger team to manage. The business needs more people to meet the needs of another country. One of the biggest issues that Value Marketing faces is the fact that the writers for CasinoTop.com reside in different time zones. For the business, it means that there needs to be a main contact between employees who is available, depending on the time zone.

Rewards are worth it

Though each company will face challenges, the rewards are often worth it. The reward of running a multinational corporation is that you can harness the top talent from around the world. Talented, motivated and goal-oriented employees will work with you toward the same goal. They can provide valuable insight and new points of view, thus helping the business to stand out from the rest.

Building a large network around the world opens new business possibilities and gives room for new ideas to blossom. And the best part is you will simply never run out of room to grow as a business—frankly put, the opportunities are endless.

In fact, hiring top talent is one of the key factors of any business. As your business operates on an international level, you will be able to reach more people who possess the skills your company needs. In addition, you will never have to settle.

A multinational setup will not only bring more possibilities to your business, but for your employees, too. It has been proven that when employees have room to grow and goals to reach, they work happier and harder.

Keeping things simple

An international company is a lot of work and running it is not just a day job—it is something you live and breathe. As there are multiple players in the game and each of them have their own tasks, it can become hard to keep the workflow and communication simple.

Today's technology has made it possible to stay in touch in many ways, keep track, and organize things using different tools. Trello, Skype, WhatsApp, Monday—these are all excellent tools of communication. However, doing too much and giving employees and leaders too many tools and channels can make it hard to keep track of things.

The more work you have, and the more players there are in your team, the more important it is to keep things simple. When you can communicate with everyone on the same platform and each member of the team uses the same tools, workflow becomes effortless and more importantly, effective.

Start-up vs. multinational corporation

Though running an international corporation may be intriguing especially because of the great business opportunities, it is not for everyone. Some businesses will do very well as a start-up or a local business and will never need to step foot onto another continent. Smaller companies also have their advantages, one being that running it requires a lot of less effort and resources.

However, if your business has reached its peak level and there is no more room to grow in your current business model, it may be the time to consider how you can expand your company. Weighing the pros and cons against the opportunities is a great place to start—and the next step is taking a leap of faith.

Srivatsa KR

Start-up enthusiast & Blogger

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