An entrepreneur asked me: "Should you 1.) start efforts simultaneously, 2.) wait to establish yourself completely in the domestic market or 3.) get some domestic traction and then launch global efforts as well?"
Definitely not start both simultaneously. Now, whether one should follow option 2 or option 3 depends on a lot of factors. Instead of giving you an answer, let me give you some questions to think about:
- How do you acquire customers? Do customers sign up through your website on their own or perhaps via your partners? Or do you need to invest in selling to customers?
- How do you service your customers? Once a customer pays you for your product or service, do they need hand-holding?
- How much does local knowledge matter in your business? Do you and your team have experience in your markets of interest?
- Are you sure you know what "global" really means? Even some of the best known companies don't go global immediately and when they have tried, they have failed in some markets. Amazon, Google, eBay and many others have failed to crack some major markets they were interested in (some examples for those companies I just named: China, Japan, Korea). The only example I can think of in recent memory where a start-up went truly global in a very short time is Groupon -- and we all know how that story ended.
We want to continue to do what we are doing until the market is saturated. There are a lot of infrastructure problems that need to be fixed. For instance, the road transport corporations can’t take our load. The technology needs to be robust and someone needs to solve it. The return on our time is higher if we are working in a known market especially when there are fundamental issues to be solved.