I have long taken issue with the idea that one can incubate in e.g. a remote part of Finland and then easily iterate and scale the product to a global market. If you do not start out thinking globally you do not only miss a trick. You will struggle at home and abroad. How easily will you be able to go global when your staff’s mindset is local, your processes are local and your product and marketing engines are local? Your thinking will be local, your experiences will be local and you will go out to solve the problem your initial products solved in a new market with the tools from your home market. The world has not been waiting for Äkäslömpölön Mallaspulla – your product and branding need to keep the overall global market in mind. By all means do build a great Finnish product. Use the Nordics, use Finland in your branding. But make sure the solution is scalable from the get-go or you will become your own biggest growth block. Here are a few things to think about from the start
- Start off with a global mindset: what is your total market size? What is the overall potential for your product and will that potential be enhanced significantly by global mega-trends such as digitalisation or demographics in the near future?
- Culture: I cannot stress this enough. While most Central and Western European cultures are fairly comfortable with each other, the Nordic ones tend to struggle with the more abrasive and lengthy business discussions which can seem small-talkey, non-factual and tiring for a Finn in particular. Cultural differences are real. Immerse your staff early.
- Focus on sales: go out and make a few sales in a new market and use it to gather feedback. Did your blueberry grain bun meet the tastes of the Malagasy urban elite with their strong preference for all things vanilla and their French colonial heritage? Did your baby food packaging depicting a happy, white dog strike the fancy of Shanghai mothers? The best way to find out is to sell (or fail to sell) and ask for feedback