The thought of taking your startup global is simultaneously thrilling and daunting. After all, in this day and age any company can launch a website, make a few cross-border sales, and call themselves global. But achieving true international success is something else entirely. If your goal is to crack foreign markets wide open for your startup, you’re going to need the right tools at your disposal.
Reasons to consider going international with your startup
There are many advantages to taking your startup global. The most obvious being that it will give you access to a larger customer base. More potential customers means greater potential revenue. And greater revenues will lead to more stability and a higher success rate for your business long-term.
Entering international markets also diversifies your business. This can prove invaluable should you suffer negative setbacks in one market because you can offset your losses with gains in other markets.
Finally, companies that expand quickly into new markets gain a competitive edge. By building name recognition and brand awareness with consumers before anyone else, you give yourself a first-mover advantage.
All of this will ultimately make your startup more attractive to investors now and potential buyers when you are ready to exit.
The challenges your startup will face when entering foreign markets
Going global is not for everyone. You will face many challenges when taking your startup overseas which need to be carefully considered and diligently planned for. Here are just a few.
Every new country that you engage with–and potentially every locality within those countries–will have its own laws and regulations with regard to trade, licensing, taxation, employment, and a host of other business concerns. It’s vital for you to consult experts who can ensure your startup’s full legal compliance.
Global expansion costs can quickly overwhelm a startup’s budget. There will be regulatory fees and taxes to consider. You’ll also need to budget for human resources, accounting, logistics, communications, and myriad other expenditures. Not to mention the marketing and public relations you’ll need in order to attract customers. You’ll need to conduct quite a bit of research on your target market to make sure your success is not undermined by unexpected overhead.
Depending on what your business is, there may already be established, local vendors offering familiar solutions to your potential customers. To avoid being seen as the outsider, you’ll need a solid understanding of the market needs in order to win customers away from their trusted, local brands.
Things to consider when localizing your business offerings for overseas markets
As you’re preparing to expand into international markets, it’s important to remember that you can’t just copy and paste your business practices from one region to the next. There will need to be a process of localization. Here is some of what you’ll need to take into account during this localization process.
Needless to say, if you are expanding into a region where the dominant language is different from your own, everything (contracts, marketing materials, customer service–maybe even your company name) will have to be translated. This process requires specialized knowledge, and the right language service provider (LSP) can be indispensable in helping you succeed.
Cultural faux pas can quickly undermine a fledgling business. Even countries that share a geographical region and language can have vastly different customs, traditions, and social norms. You’ll need to work with experts who know how each individual market can be expected to respond to your products, services, and messaging.
Even if you only plan to sell online, you still need to conform your pricing to your customers’ local currencies. Not only does this mean accounting for constantly fluctuating exchange rates, but also inflation and your competitiveness when compared to local alternatives.
The ease with which customers can interact with your brand will greatly influence how they perceive it. Everything from product design to websites and apps to customer service protocols need to offer a positive user experience. This may mean adjusting graphic designs to accommodate languages that read right to left, ensuring your mobile app works in regions with slower Internet speeds, or accepting different payment solutions than you’re used to.
What is neural machine translation and how can it help?
To successfully expand your startup into foreign markets, you’ll want to leverage every advantage that helps you operate legally, efficiently, and affordably. One surprising tool that can help you achieve this is neural machine translation.
Neural machine translation uses artificial intelligence to translate between languages instantaneously, economically, and with a high degree of accuracy–an ideal combination for a startup. But how does this help you achieve your international expansion plans?
Translating legal and financial documents
When it comes to dealing with international bureaucracy, there will be mountains of paperwork to deal with: contracts, applications, tax filings, and more will all have to be completed in the local language.
Neural machine translation can help in two ways. First, it can translate foreign materials into your native language so you can read and understand them yourself. Second, it can provide an affordable alternative to human translation when preparing legal and financial documents for submission to authorities and other stakeholders.
A good language service provider will offer neural machine translation combined with expert human translators who provide quality control.
Conducting market research
As noted earlier, the importance of thoroughly understanding your target market cannot be overstated. NMT can aid you with market research that gives valuable insight before you risk entering a new region.
For example, neural machine translation can be used in combination with social media monitoring tools to allow you to “listen in” on conversations concerning your competitors, industry, and customer interests. NMT can also translate local news articles related to your business so you can better understand the social and political climate. And finally, you can use NMT to conduct market research surveys asking potential customers directly about their needs and preferences.
When you are ready to launch your startup in a new market, neural machine translation can help you localize all your existing marketing assets for your new audience. It’s ideal for automatically translating website and mobile app content, particularly ecommerce content that is highly repetitive. But it can also be used for brochures, user guides, customer education, and even chatbots and interactive voice response systems.
The key to using neural machine translation for marketing is knowing which materials are suitable for raw machine translation and which require a human touch in the form of machine translation post editing. Your LSP should be able to guide you on this.
How to choose the right language service provider for your startup
There are many neural machine translators on the market. Which one is right for your business will depend on factors such as the languages you need translated, the industry you are in, and your budget.
A neural machine translation engine will only be as good as the data it was trained on. The more relevant the training, the more accurate the translations will be. That is why it’s important to select a provider that has experience in your industry and with the language pairs you are working with.
Cost is also an important factor. Neural machine translation is more expensive than available alternatives; however, it is also the most accurate. This is an area where you should be shopping for the highest quality your budget will allow.
Finally, it’s important to contract with an experienced LSP that understands your international expansion goals. Seek out a true partner who has the knowledge to help guide you on your journey to global success.
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