Conquering the global market: Small businesses thinking big

Here's how small companies are adapting to global market situations and thinking on a grander scale.

No matter where your business starts out, international expansion is undoubtedly a marker of positive growth.

In fact, in the ever-connected age of the internet, operating in the global market is not only something that many entrepreneurs strive for, it is often a factor that must be considered in order to ensure longevity.

Taking a start-up from local to global is not without its challenges, and the recipe for success varies greatly from industry to industry.

However, it increasingly forms part of the start-up vision, and is something that countless small businesses have been able to achieve.

The importance of a global mentality for start-ups is something that major business players are increasingly recognising, and investing in.

Google recently went in search of ten of the UK’s most innovative start-ups, with a view to helping them on their way to international expansion.

The chosen businesses will have the opportunity to connect with a global community of entrepreneurs, as well as receive mentorship and support from established business figures and investors.

In the same vein, Dell recently named Scottish-based start-up IbisVision as a winner of their Entrepreneurial Growth Programme, providing them with access to hardware, mentorship and training that will ultimately help them to market their product worldwide.

Financial backing and mentorship are no doubt invaluable when it comes to transcending geographical borders, however, they are not the only factors to play a part.

A prime example of the transition from local to global business is Chrono24, which has gone from being a small-scale classifieds website in 2003 to the leading global marketplace for luxury watches.

A €21 million investment from Insight Venture Partners back in 2015 has certainly enabled them to continue their international growth, but CEOs Tim Stracke and Dirk Schwartz had long been carving out the company’s global presence.

Trust and transparency form a large part of their global appeal, making them the platform of choice for over 10,000 professional watch sellers in over 80 countries. Another key factor is language; by providing content in over 20 languages, Chrono24 highlights how a country-specific approach is key to successfully forming a bridge between consumers and vendors the world over.

Indeed, propelling a small business to global market success is all about making your concept relevant in different markets, and communicating in the local language is no doubt a crucial part of this.

Equally important is an in-depth understanding of how your target audience varies according to country or region, and an insider view of how the local market operates.

This is where a network of global market business connections proves especially valuable; no one is better positioned to help you conquer a particular market than those who have already done so.

However, this is not to say that global success is impossible without a host of international contacts behind you. For many small businesses, expansion starts locally, like dry-cleaning start-up Laundrapp which started in London in 2015 and now operates in over 100 cities nationwide.

Having made themselves known in the UK market, Laundrapp recently secured a £5 million investment which, like many ambitious start-ups, they will use to drive international growth. Speaking of the company’s future following the investment, Laundrapp co-founder Edward Relf declared it ‘a massive British start-up soon to be a global success story!’

So what can small businesses learn from the likes of Chrono24, Laundrapp and countless others like them? Ultimately, as the world of business becomes increasingly global, the value of adopting an international, or even national, vision is not to be underestimated.

By understanding and adapting to wider markets, businesses can increase their scope and essentially strengthen the longevity of their brand. For further advice on global business, take a look at these strategies for improving international operations.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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