Going Global from Startup to Scaleup (6 Steps)
Without the right relationships, your “Go Global” process can be doomed to failure. Yes, technology is important. Yes, you need the right processes in place. But in the end, it’s the people in your organization who will help you achieve your global goals. By building strong communication networks and meaningful relationships, you’ll thrive as the leader of your localization strategy.
So what human aspect of business can you focus on to ensure a smooth startup process? Here are six steps that will help you usher your startup into the global arena.
#1 GPO (Globalization Program Office)
For this first step, you will need to set your operations in place and make sure you have your core team. Your people are your greatest strength, so taking the time to invest in good talent and team culture will drive your success for years to come.
First, you need to build the right team structure.
For a smooth functioning team, you will need to have Project Managers to communicate with stakeholders (for planning and deadlines), Engineers to decide which tools to use, build the workflows and automation, procurement people to manage your external partners, and linguists to help with reviewing and signing off on content.
- Strategic positioning: We encourage you to think about your team not just as its own unit, but as a crucial part of the larger company whole. When you think this way, you’ll be able to connect with other teams, form partnerships that help integrate your employees into initiatives across the company, and position your team as a vital part of a range of operations.
- Vendor management and quality models: your translation partners might not be in your office, but they’re a key part of your team’s ScaleUp strategy. Selecting a strong translation partner with rigorous review processes will help you reaffirm that your team produces quality work.
- Technology and automation set-up: As you build your team, build good tech that will support them. Where can you automate? Where can you use machine translation? Investing in good tech will help your team be more agile.
- Insource / Outsource: Your employees are already experts in what your company does, but you can give your team’s other strengths a chance to shine. Consider a mix of outsourcing for language and subject matter expertise that your team does not have but also consider how to best leverage your current team. Maybe Sharon is a crack public speaker and would be a great evangelist for your team’s work; maybe Jorge is great at understanding the big picture of the company and can see the places your team might work with others.
#2 SOI (Sphere of Influence)
Without the right people throughout your organization onboard with and championing your localization program in their different departments, you will remain a “service” instead of the “Most Valuable Player (MVP)” who has a real impact on the direction of your company.
You will want to include people from many different departments in your SOI. Your direct management and above (up to C-Level), your peers, head of product and marketing groups, finance people… you get the picture. Think about your company and who might possibly have a say in taking a product or service to a new global market. Those are the people that you need to have in your corner.
Now that you have key members of your organization in your corner, it is time to spread awareness about how you can improve the lives of folks across your company. This should be a proactive effort… and your team members are key to this effort.
Employees of a rapidly growing company might not know about what your team does or how you can help them–so you will need to evangelize. Look for ways to communicate with and support other teams. If you do good work, you’ll naturally grow a group of influencers who can talk about your team’s value to other people they know.
Run initiatives and internal marketing campaigns to make others aware of what you do. Highlight the work of your stellar team, especially when you can show how their work helped others succeed. Don’t let people forget you exist!
Demonstrating the ROI of translation and localization usually is based on some standard KPIs. But let’s face it, the budget given to a localization department will rarely come close to what is given to product or marketing. So to make the most of your resources, look even beyond those “localization” metrics.
Tie your success into the KPIs of other departments. The way to do this is to communicate with your champions in other departments to a greater level, so they realize your contribution to each department’s success. Think of the impression it will make when the head of marketing is giving a report on their new campaign and can tie its success in Germany to your localization efforts, for example.
Over time, you’ll demonstrate that the work your team does as a great ROI while simultaneously showing how valuable your localization team members are to the group’s success.
#5 GTM (Go-to-Market)
Your localization department is not usually going to be in charge of go-to-market strategy. Don’t let that stop you! Your input might be critical to ensure local and cultural understanding so your users can find you, use you, and love you!
So get involved, share insights, provide resources! You might have local contacts in a country that can give valuable input on whether a product or campaign would work in said country. Even if you do not personally have these contacts, you likely have a language service partner who does.
Regardless of the case, by being in the “room where it happens” from the beginning of global strategy discussions you can demonstrate your value and prevent issues that come from thinking of localization as an afterthought.
Growth will happen. Don’t be left behind. Always be thinking about if you have the right structures and people in place if your startup doubles, triples, or quadruples in size. It is easy to get caught up with the tactical task of the day but if you want to thrive in the long run, take time to define a growth path for your team.
If you have built the right structure, technology, and partners you will be ready to take on more content, more languages, and scale with the organization.