Startups are in the fortuitous position these days of having immediate access to global markets through our ever-increasing technology. There is opportunity for easy translation, setting up accounts overseas and international travel, which has never been as well connected and straightforward as now. With this in mind, many startups still get things straight by opening in their locale before deciding on expansion, which makes good business sense in the terms of initial outlay.

Some of the most successful companies started small and local and it is through strategy, hard work and catching the right trend that they have got to where they are now. Systematic upscaling needs to be controlled by the startup, in order to get the best possible result.

Expansion Nationally

Expansion does not necessarily mean international. Many businesses may start off by getting additional premises in the same locale or nearby. Particularly for food establishments, this is an effective way of expanding.

Expansion Internationally

For many companies, they will notice that they are naturally getting attention overseas. Orders and enquiries might start coming in for overseas delivery. If this is the case it might be time to think about expanding to international markets. Once your custom base is made up of 25% orders from overseas then it is time to start thinking about how you can scale up internationally.

In either case, the expansion needs to be well planned and executed in order to get the most success from it. This requires some planning time and logistics, as well as being flexible, adaptable and innovative. The steps involved in upscaling internationally may be slightly different in terms of accepting different payment methods and translating into different languages, however, the common goal is to complete as much thorough research on wherever your next venture will be as possible, learning about local customers’ expectations and needs.

Focus On UX

This is something of a buzzword being used in marketing a lot at the moment, and yet, as tech trends lead the way in business, it is essential to making sure customers have an enjoyable experience. This, in turn, means they are likely to come back. Planning the way you and staff will respond to every customer touch point means a holistic and supportive experience, which guarantees repeat custom.

How you can focus on UX is dependent on several things which will be personal to your business, and always starts with your points of contact. For example, your website, social media and shop front, as well as telephone line. Whatever channel you are getting your custom through, you need to think about how it feels to be a customer at that point. What do they want? What could make the experience easier? With international expansion, this will mean having the main website translated into the native language(s) of country(ies) you are expanding to.

Language & Its Permutations

UX does not end with an easy website. It covers everything from how the customer journey begins, how their queries are answered, how they pay and what aftercare they receive. You will need to carry out effective research prior to expansion in order to make sure that your touchpoints have the right language, but not just in terms of English and overseas languages, rather in terms of understanding relevance to the area you are expanding to. This covers language, and if it is within the same country, this can vary from place to place. For example, there are over fifteen colloquial words for bread rolls used in the UK. If you’re expanding from Northampton to Yorkshire you may find your bap becomes a cob!


Also known as context, this is a key part of expanding anywhere. Research the customs and culture of the area. For example, if you were to be expanding to somewhere with a larger Muslim community, or indeed a Muslim country, you may find it helpful to know that a thumbs up symbol is actually very offensive. Similarly China, Japan and some other Asian countries consider the number four to be bad luck and gift sets in these laces tend to either be for three or five. Even if your expansion is not into another country, finding out what is relevant to the locals where you are planning to go will be helpful in making sure no toes are trodden on.

Legal Issues

Expanding to another country and setting up any premises there can be a legal minefield and it is always best to seek legal advice from experts. Firms like Withers LLP have a team of specifically trained advisers in matters of international immigration, including business legal advice overseas. Take time to get as much advice in this process as possible, in order to achieve a smooth expansion. Having someone well versed in the process will be a comfort, as well as ensuring everything you do is correct in the eyes of the law.

These are exciting times for startups and with a bit of guidance, expanding should be driven forward.