It is one thing to start a business in Australia, but it’s a completely different challenge expanding internationally. Five years ago I founded Event Head, an events management and coaching company based in Melbourne. My business helps entrepreneurs run inspiring and impactful workshops. In this time I’ve run a number of successful international events in London and New York.
In May 2017 I launched my European operation which was the next obvious step for me with many of my clients based there. These clients had participated in events or online workshops and it was time to provide them with a higher quality service. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from expanding my business overseas.
Growth markets offer a larger client base
Internationally, Australians are respected for their work ethic, their charisma and charm. This translates well in the events industry. Markets like France and the United Kingdom offer larger growth opportunity for my business – with over 60 million people living in France and the United Kingdom respectively. Personally I have a real love for and connection to Europe and it’s a pleasure to do business there. Having a presence means that I can support even more entrepreneurs and business owners in creating the most powerful events.
Respect cultural differences
The beautiful thing about events is that no matter where you go, the foundations are the same. Purposefulness, inclusion, thoughtfulness and presence are the key elements of my events. However, it’s important to consider the cultural differences between Melbourne, Paris and London. In the United Kingdom, the business environment is very similar to Australia, but can be a little more formal and conservative. In France titles are more formally used and we greet with a kiss on each cheek. I also find doing business in France it shows respect and effort to know and use basic French language. Even the way you dress and present yourself can be an important consideration. Partnering with local staff and business partners has been a helpful way to navigate these cultural differences with current advice that is relevant to my business.
Recruit experienced staff on the ground
One thing that has been critical to my overseas success has been getting better at delegating. I now have a permanent staff member based in London who has helped with my administration and negotiating the time differences. Connectivity and social media have been a really important part of my expansion strategy. With technology, I don’t need to always be there and can utilise video conferencing and hold Skype meetings to connect with my clients.
Be clear on your company values
People often ask me what the difference is between entrepreneurs in Australia and markets like the United Kingdom. I’ve found that entrepreneurs worldwide operate very similarly which is fabulous because it means our specialisation and experience in working with entrepreneurs translates without borders. I think that this has a lot to do with the heart centred Event Head culture, we tend to attract likeminded clients.
Mind your wellbeing whilst travelling
Having an international business brings with it a lot of travel. The good thing about this is that nothing beats the feeling of being in the same room as clients you adore and feeling all that amazing energy. It can be important to be there with them on the day of the event assisting logistically, emotionally and physically to help their day run smoothly. The difficult thing with international travel is the time spent waiting in airports and the time away from my gorgeous family. Where possible I have found travelling with my family helps. I also try to get flight upgrades and use airport lounges to ensure I arrive at my destination bright eyed and fresh.
Use available resources
Lastly there are a lot of resources available for Australian businesses looking to expand overseas. Austrade provides good advice and services and leveraging these can help you to avoid common blunders made by other businesses.
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