Launching your small business can be a daunting concept. There are a thousand and one things to sort out, and if you’re a brand new startup, it’s easy to feel the extreme force of overwhelm, anxiety, and panic.
But, here at Zutobi, we’ve made things simple again with our International Cheat Sheet for Startups and Small Businesses.
Let’s review — What is a Startup?
Before we go any further, let’s clear up any confusion about the term “startups.”
If you’re a startup, it means you:
- Are a young company that is just “starting up.”
- Have less than 100 people working for you.
- Are one of the following six types of startups: lifestyle startups, small business startups, scalable startups, buyable startups, large company startups, or social startups.
Startups are full of drive, determination, and passion for their business. But, more often than not, they lack the practical experience they need to avoid the pitfalls and reach their goals in a time that suits them.
For International Issues in Your Startup — This Cheat Sheet Comes into Play
Rule 1: Test the Waters, But Don’t Commit Before You Spot Traction
Any business investment is a risk. That’s why it’s so crucial not to overcommit before you can monitor positive progress.
Think about it like cooking. A successful chef will tell you that the most critical cooking method amongst any and every cuisine is something you can do for free: to taste your food.
It’s only through tasting your culinary masterpiece that you’re made aware of the ingredients it’s lacking, what it needs more of, and what you need to dial down on.
In your business, this is precisely the same. Monitoring your data within a campaign or project is the number one strategy for growth. Digesting and analyzing your figures is your way of sampling your food.
If you go all-in with a kilogram of salt because you felt your dish needed more salt, it’ll quickly become too salty and inedible. Meaning, the dish you worked hard on would go straight in the trash.
But, if you were to taste your existing food, you’d know it needed only a pinch of salt to elevate it to the next level of flavor.
The takeaway? Taste your numbers. It’s only then that you’ll realize whether to spit them out, add more, or start from scratch.
Rule 2: Focus on the Markets That Drive Your Revenue
When marketing your business, you’ll quickly discover that each demographic will make a different dent in your revenue.
Again, it’s about analyzing your data regularly and understanding which market is purchasing which product or service.
You’ll want to dedicate your time, effort, and money to a market that drives your revenue. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to persuade a demographic that they need your product when they’re clearly not interested.
Get to know the demographics you’re pitching to — and understand the differences — both small and large – between them.
You can then fit the puzzle together to why a specific group is buying more from you than the other.
It’s essential that you understand the story behind the data. And, once you’ve done so, focus on the market that’s driving your revenue the most.
For example, we understand that the younger demographic who are just learning how to drive dominate our market. While other driving test apps may be niched toward adult learners, ours is used predominantly by the younger generation. So, we focus on that market as they drive our revenue.
In our Pennsylvania permit tests, for example, we made sure to mimic the communication style of our audience. We studied the language choice carefully to make sure our content appeals to them.
Rule 3: Test Different Marketing Platforms and Know That Different Platforms Work in Different Countries
Small businesses often overlook this rule.
There are hundreds of online courses that teach the secrets of successful marketing. And, seeing as they’re all available online, you could be taught by someone from anywhere in the world.
The difference is, of course, that what works for them may not work for you.
For example, social media marketing is a strong marketing strategy. However, depending on the country you’re selling to, you’ll see spikes in usage across all the different social networking platforms.
China, for example, has strict website restrictions, and many social networking sites are unavailable. So, the population of China uses a different platform from the people of America.
If you were trying to launch your business in China, you’d need to know this to avoid spending money on social media ads for them to fall on flat ears.
You can be even more specific when it comes to marketing platforms and locations. The content you put out there needs to be well adjusted to the area it’s matched to.
Our range of practice permit tests for 2021 has been created with the location in mind. We’ve got a massive range of 30 free online tests for our audience. They range from practice tests based in Utah to Missouri to many other states around America.
Where are you going to market your startup or small business?
Consider affiliate marketing tactics, email marketing, and search engine optimization as methods of marketing. Just ensure you do your market research and understand the marketing status of the location.
Rule 4: Don’t Go Too Broad With Your Marketing Before You Find Marketing Campaigns That Work
Spreading your brand too thin on the ice can have disastrous effects on your revenue.
If you choose to dedicate your efforts across seven different marketing platforms, it will be tricky to monitor an accurate representation of what is working and what isn’t, especially if you are doing this alone or even in a small team.
No matter what form they take, your marketing tactics require a solid amount of time to make a story. Unless you have a clear idea of a beginning, middle, and end, it’s impossible to state whether it was or wasn’t practical.
It may take some time before you find a marketing campaign that works for your brand with your target audience. However, when you do find it, it’s like you’ve won the lottery.
Once you’ve discovered your ideal marketing platform and campaign, you’ll need to expand your local variants to all markets.
You can do this by adding more products or services to your site, target new markets, and/or co-branding with another business within your industry.
Rule 5: Don’t Try to Sell to Customers That Don’t Want Your Product. Focus On the Ones You Can Convert
This is fundamental to business development.
If you are working hard to persuade a specific demographic that your product or service can change lives, you’re marketing to the wrong customers.
This is a monumental waste of time.
If customers don’t want your product, don’t try to convince them that it’s worth their time. This is signifying that you need to change your target demographic.
And don’t see this as a negative. While it didn’t gain you sales, it did help you learn a clear lesson that this specific audience did not respond to your product. So, you can scratch them off your list.
Of course, you can, to a certain extent, avoid this by doing your market research in-depth.
To launch a successful business, you need to have an obvious idea about who you’re selling to. Part of the puzzle is that they’re receptive to your brand, products, services, and transformations.
You’ll need to focus on the type of customers or clients that genuinely convert. Probe deeper into their life and try to spot patterns between each customer.
Try to gain as many reviews as possible from those who bought from you. This way, you can analyze them and find similarities. The more you do this, the clearer your avatar will be. Once you have a solid understanding of who your brand sells to, you can personalize them through your messaging.
Rule 6: Try to Become a Household Name in at Least 1 Country Or Market – If You’re Too Spread Out, Your Brand And Organic Revenue Will Suffer
This rule goes above and beyond ‘great marketing.’ The marketing side of things will, if done right, influence this next step.
Being a household name means you’re the preferred brand within that industry.
Dyson, for example, controls 20.7% of the market for vacuum cleaners in the US.
They’re a firm household name, focusing closely on the average family in their marketing tactics.
It’s crucial to focus on one demographic or location at a time. Once you’ve mastered one and become a household name for that audience, you can conquer another demographic.
If you try to spread yourself out too thin, you will negatively impact your business’s revenue.
The key is in knowing. Understand your demographic as best you can. The more specific the target audience, the deeper you can probe to understand their pain points and general life. That way, your marketing can speak directly to them, resulting in more sales and more considerable revenue.
Rule 7: Enter A New Market Only After Thorough Research
As we said in Rule 6, once you’ve mastered one market or location, you can move on to the next.
But do so with caution.
You should not now, nor should you ever, enter a new market without thorough research.
Every demographic has a different set of qualities, problems, likes, dislikes, fears, and day-to-day routines that your brand needs to acknowledge and cater to in their marketing for maximum success.
If, for example, you gained an excellent response from an audience in New York, with female buyers ranging between 21 and 30, you’d need thorough research to sell the same product or service to an all-male audience from Hawaii, between the ages of 50 and 60.
There’s very little that these two demographics have in common. So, to break that market wide open, you need to understand their need for this product.
Without thorough market research, you’ll find it challenging to make the sales you need to drive your revenue.
Rule 8: Become A Thought Leader By Providing New Insight Into Your Niche
Knowing the typical issues and opinions within your niche is good.
Providing new insights and revolutionary methods is excellent.
So, up-level your brand from good to great today.
You’ll need to stay up to date with the latest trends and thoughts surrounding your industry, and more specifically, your niche.
Use social media to explore the competition, and analyze their common talking points.
You could take it even further by reading through the comments left by their target audience. If they’re a direct competitor, you can learn from their engagement, picking up on the language used by the audience and the response specific themes receive.
Use this to evolve your content and marketing, making sure to always be relevant and modern.
Convey your excellent subject knowledge through your content strategy, showing the world that you are an authority within your niche.
You should aim for your brand to be the equivalent of Google within your industry.
Rule 9: Understand That Different Markets Respond To Different Messages
This is true for all demographics. While it’s evident that different countries will react differently to different messages based on cultural influence and sociolinguistics, zooming in even more will show you that every demographic will respond in different ways. This can be through slight intricacies of the more extreme contrasts.
Either way, the difference in demographics should be at the forefront of your mind when mapping out your marketing strategy.
Demographic traits include:
- Family size
- Family status
- Education level
The variation for all of these sectors will determine how an individual responds to certain words and structures. There’s a level of psychology to positioning the right message for specific audiences.
While a younger audience may appreciate slang in your marketing, an older, more corporate audience may not.
The way to nail this is simply by understanding and knowing your audience as best as you can.
You should aim to know your audience as well as you know yourself. A steep ask, we know. But, you should shoot for the moon, and if you can’t quite get to that level, you’ll still land amongst the stars.
Rule 10: Ensure Your Company Can Handle The Burden Of Multiple Tax Systems And Shipping Logistics (If Applicable)
When starting up your business, your passion, determination, and drive are on full steam. It can sometimes lead to forgetting about your tax systems and shipping logistics.
While, admittedly, these are the more ‘grey areas of business, they still exist and need careful thought and preparation.
Consider Shipping Tax, especially if you’re making your products available in different countries. Shipping Taxes will vary depending on location, so if you’re opening up this feature, be prepared to do your research and learn what applies to your business.
This should also play a role in adding shipping charges. If you’re going to offer a ‘free shipping’ deal for an order over a specific price, it’s crucial to understand how much profit you’ll make with this. Monitor the numbers and make sure they factor into your strategy.
Plan For Success
Starting a small business is an exciting endeavor. But, if you want to see your business succeed, you need to plan in advance. Using our cheat sheet (and keeping your eyes set on your goal) can help get you there.
Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels; thank you!
Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!
UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!