Countdown to Going Global #1: Choose your timing and timeline

Expanding overseas, but not sure where to start?

In this miniseries, we’re tackling everything from timelines to tools and translation best practices to help you on your quest, with a focus on all things related to your expansion digitally.

We’ll explore each of these topics in depth in the new year, but want to first paint a big picture of what the process looks like at-a-glance. We’ve arranged the tips in a rough sequence to give you a sense of what you should tackle first, but you can move stages around as you see fit.




Tip #1 is around timing and timelines. Specifically:

  • When do I know if my company is ready to go global?
  • What should I consider when crafting a timeline?

You’ll know you’re ready to expand globally if:

  • You’ve figured out whether your product is right for users in your current market and have expanded as much as you can, or at least are seeing solid growth
  • You have a strong enough foundation in your current market that your teams and operations won’t be disrupted or distracted by additional responsibilities and a shift in focus
  • You’ve determined that your product is globally competitive (we’ll help more on this in tip #2)
  • You have ample team time and funds to fuel international growth

A tip from Taku Harada, CEO of Orinoco sums up timing well. Using American companies as an example, he argues:

If you can’t figure out San Francisco, how can you expect to figure out Tokyo? and SurveyMonkey are hugely successful in the U.S. They’ve saturated the market and they’ve probably reached their pinnacle in many ways in it, so it was obviously time for them to internationalize.

(Further reading in our Going Global Report)

After you’ve decided that it’s indeed time for your company to expand and have a rough sense of how long it’ll take, sketch out a rough timeline, considering:

  • Your team and the resources you’re able to dedicate to the expansion in every department outside of core operations, or how long it will take to hire and onboard the necessary people to help out
  • What drives your company’s growth—will you need a robust sales team to target large enterprise companies? Or significant on-the-ground marketing? Does your product or service require local community advocates?
  • Your industry’s average time to market and how this may change in different countries around the globe
  • Your target market and any regulations or roadblocks that you may encounter, i.e. documentation requirements, licensing, etc.
  • How long typical globalization processes take (translation, localization, internationalization)—we’ll dive into each of these in future tips

Our next tip, which is often considered in tandem with this one, will help you research and choose target markets.

Go global with Gengo’s people-powered translation platform.

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Sarah Siwak

The author

Sarah Siwak

Sarah manages content production for Gengo's marketing team. A native Detroiter and fluent trilingual, she's passionate about finding creative ways to communicate ideas across different media and languages. She spends her free time exploring digital worlds and whipping up late-night omelettes.

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