Think Global, Act Local

Article by:
Tim Schumacher, EO Boston
Tim Schumacher
EO Boston

As CEO of Sedo.com, Tim Schumacher helped his business become a profitable dot-com by maintaining rapid growth – over 150% per year – thanks to international expansion. With 120 employees, Sedo.com netted more than US$50 million in revenue for FY2006. Tim can be reached at tim@sedo.com.

Establish a virtual presence around the globe.
To make my mark, I needed to appear omnipresent to my global customer base. I decided to employ a geographic domain name acquisition strategy. I bought the rights to more than 50 country-specific top-level domains, such as “Sedo.de” (Germany) and “Sedo.fr” (France). Now, when customers search for us online, they’re able to use the domain they are most familiar with. This demonstrates a local presence and establishes a memorable domain name that encourages repeat business.

Hire a native speaker.
Once business hits a critical mass, consider hiring a native-speaking employee to service your customers (either remotely or locally). To maximize my company’s internal capabilities, I implemented a global exchange program. The program gives all employees an opportunity to work for an extended period of time in a foreign office. I’ve also found that videoconferencing, Skype. com, online meetings and other communication tools help with this process.

Visit before you invest.
I have found that submerging myself in a country’s culture provides invaluable insights into which business practices work and don’t work in a particular region. When I was considering global expansion, I made sure I understood how my business could best establish a  virtual, physical and cultural presence. Correctly implementing all three at the right time can have a major impact on your business and provide a leg up on competition, wherever it may be based.

Decide if physical offices are necessary.
When tackling international markets, companies should decide if it’s necessary to build physical offices in new countries.  Luckily, the modern supply chain network and the Internet make it possible for businesses to serve customers in a specific country before placing an office there. Consider coupling with local partners to enhance your presence in a geographic region.


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