Entrepreneurs usually sprout ideas from what they know best—current occupations, lifetime hobbies, subjects they’ve unknowingly studied for so long before starting up. Most of the time, they know who their target audience is. Which is why they feel so comfortable when taking such a big risk in order to serve them with something new.
If that target audience is located nowhere near your current headquarters, the leap into entrepreneurship may require relocation a brand new region. Whether just across town, to other side of the country or onto a different continent, launching or expanding into previously uncharted lands can be daunting.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out their advice for exploring foreign territory:
“What advice would you give a CEO launching or expanding in a brand new region?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Lead With Media
“I have the honor of doing CEO branding for several CEO’s, and I would advise a CEO to lead with media. Hire a public relations professional that can immediately get you on local TV, newspapers or radio, as this will add to your credibility locally and put you on fertile ground.” ~ Raoul Davis, Ascendant Strategy
2. Are Your Legal Bases Covered?
“Check with your attorney to make sure you are not triggering any additional legal requirements. For example, many cities and states require a company to register if they are “doing business” in the jurisdiction. You need to notify your legal counsel so you can determine whether your new business activities trigger any additional legal requirements.” ~ Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC
3. Add a Local on Your Team
“Most of the time, you don’t know enough about another region/country to go it alone. Hire someone who understands the local markets and culture to help you get started. There are enough reasons why you might not succeed, take advantage of local insight and knowledge about the region or market. We’ve seen the benefits of hiring locally in every market we’ve entered: U.S., Japan, China and Mexico.” ~ Christian Springub, Jimdo
4. Research the Region
“I would recommend doing research on the region and on the culture of the region. I would also recommend doing market research on the area. Become knowledgeable about the type of consumers you will encounter and their buying habits, as well as what works from a marketing/advertising/public relations standpoint.” ~ Zach Cutler, Cutler Group
5. Draft a Local Strategy
“Go in with a strategy if you’re in a new region. If you have a client or group of clients in the area, then have them take you around and show you who they interact with. Join them – they have a local view into the community.” ~ Jordan Guernsey, Molding Box
6. Market Makers Make Good Friends
“Make friends with the market makers — the people who know and influence everyone. They set the tone for a product or service and can make or break your business. Make fans of them, and they’ll do much of the work for you.” ~ Brent Beshore, AdVentures
7. Join Startup America!
“The best all-around resource for startup founders is Startup America. Sign up online, connect to startups in your new region, and attend local Startup America events. It just works — I met my top mentors and co-founders this way.” ~ Neil Thanedar, LabDoor
8. Build Your Personal Brand
“As a leader, you need to build your personal brand so you can effectively launch your new business. You will need new relationships, partnerships and clients to build your company. A solid brand will attract more of these than anything else.” ~ John Hall, Digital Talent Agents
9. Speak at Local Events
“Early on, find a conference or event you can speak at to create fans, customers, and a following of your product or service. Seeing someone out-of-state coming to speak about their expertise bolsters credibility at events.” ~ Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations
10. Go on a Listening Tour
“Too often, an upstart company enters a new region with too much bravado. You’re entering somebody else’s community, so get to know the people — key business leaders, industry reps, and potential customers in the region. Don’t go in trying to sell, but work on listening. Set a tone that shows how you want to become part of their community. Build the relationships and the money will follow.” ~ Michael Margolis, Get Storied
11. Call In the Experts
“Expanding to a new region is never as simple as “take what we did before and repeat.” Find experts in the region who can help you translate your product to the new environment. The smartest move is to find those who know the local customer sentiment, regulatory environment, real estate market, and have insights into the local talent pool.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
12. Keep Uncompromising Focus
“Stick to your core competency and do what you do best. It’s usually a mistake to vary your formula for success when moving into a new market. Build your brand on what you’re known for, using the killer skills that made you successful to begin with.” ~ Nick Reese, Microbrand Media
13. Be Prepared to Test
“After making sure your new regional website is catered toward your new demographic, it’s important to quickly figure out what works for you in that particular market. Split-testing is priceless, since there can be culture and/or language differences that you and your team don’t completely comprehend first-hand. Move things around, try different language tones, swap out images, etc.” ~ Logan Lenz, Endagon
Explore Photo via Shutterstock
I really like #3 and #13. A local will have so much knowledge to add and testing ensures that you aren’t relying on intuition, but testing and iterating to find what truly works.
I think another great thing you can do is join the local chamber of commerce. They put on monthly events and networking mixers for your team to leverage as well!
Great tips! Midwestern cities such as Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis are the best for startups because of the cost of living and competition are less compared to other sites.