Going global is not always easy, but fully possible. The most important thing is to understand that you don't need to complete the journey alone, as there is a lot of support and help available all around.
Kari Lappalainen, who has been working in over 50 countries emphasises the importance of knowing the local languages and understanding and appreciating the local culture.
“It is a great benefit to know the local languages when wanting to go global. One can survive just with English, but often the knowledge of Swedish, Russian and Spanish are very valuable. The framework for the business in new country or territory is been laid in face to face meetings” Lappalainen explains.
The right moment to globalize is when the local markets offer no more growth potential or when the service or product has been developed from beginning for global distribution. It is beneficial to first study and understand the foreign market to ensure the right strategy is chosen.
Kasvu Open and Innovestor are both companies where Matti Härkönen works to help companies to increase their growth potential and reach international markets. The prosperous ideas often revolutionize the existing markets by bettering the current with a superior idea or product.
“Our message is that growth belongs to everyone. We have passion as well as the needed tools to grow and take Finnish companies global”, Härkönen explains.
The first step in globalisation is to step out of your comfort zone, which often requires fair amount of boldness from the entrepreneur. It is important to participate in happenings, meet people and pitch own ideas and visions to broader audience. Often we Finns tend to be a bit lazy or afraid, which hinders us from utilising the full growth potential, but when getting international, must all potential be used. Often the successfull ideas are embedded with emerging technology.
“Finland is a very small country, but from technical standpoint we are an a-class country. We have amazing potential on taking our knowledge on technology to the world”, Härkönen continues.
In 2018 Kasvu Open received the Internationalisation Award of the President of the republic of Finland, which sensitized Matti Härkönen and his entire team. The award was a concrete example on how the entire ecosystem in Finland has been changed and increasing amount of students want to work as entrepreneurs.
“We might have even had a few tiers of joy as the entire network received such a recognition. It was a clear message to every entrepreneur: we can provide the needed help, support and training to enable growth.”
Juha Harju works in Growthsetter which helps companies to grow by digitalizing their sales and marketing. He describes the past two years as a learning journey which has thought him more than during the past 25 years.
The first step in internationalisation is to have an idea which solves existing problem. What is the value we provide? When the product or service is top-notch, it is important to validate it with the customer first before starting to internationalise it. In the digital era, achieving growth is easier than ever before as anyone can create a webstore even via smart phone.
In order to scale your business, you need to learn something every day. It all starts from customers and their needs. In the past we had to guess the needs, but nowadays we can utilise the digital tools to collect real information”.
Digitalization changes the business possibilities and makes it easier to go global, but also changes the requirements for leadership. Well-functioning team is like a band in which the music is more than just sum of its parts. The rhytm is formed from common rutines, meaning tasks which are done together in daily and weekly bases. The secret to success lies in people who get to shine and learn new in the daily work.
The blog is a made by interviews with the Global markets - day at The Startup Factory. Listen more thoughts of Matti Härkönen, Juha Harju and Kari Lappalainen on SoundCloud or watch videos on YouTube: