Levent Künzi is Co-Founder and CEO of Properti, a tech-driven real estate company dedicated to modernizing residential real estate in Europe.
More countries, more opportunities? Growing globally is the dream of many founders — but not all succeed. Expanding into a new market is a great way to increase sales for your current product or service offering. However, it’s important to approach the initiative strategically to minimize risk and maximize the chance of success. As co-founder and CEO of one of the largest proptech brokerages in Switzerland, I’ve gleaned tactics for opening up international markets. In my experience, there are five important ways to approach your plan that will help you successfully execute and achieve what you set out to accomplish in your market expansion strategy. Whether in real estate or another industry, these strategies can impact your company’s growth.
1. Think Big And Have A Vision
The oft-heard quote “If you don’t know where you’re going, don’t be surprised if you end up somewhere else” is a very apt description of why you should define clear business goals for your startup. As an entrepreneur, you need to know where you want to go with your company. It is important that you think big and most importantly that you have the courage to do so. This helps to clearly define your vision and set your business goals. A clear vision is a characteristic that should be present in all entrepreneurs who want to lead in a particular sector or with a particular product. Visionaries are people who are brave enough not only to plan their goals but also to carry them out. Think about how to get to these goals in steps and start realizing them.
2. Focus On Sales
Many startups forget to focus on sales — but in order to successfully expand your business, you have to know how to sell. In my opinion, a boost needs to be given to sales as it’s one of the most important things as a startup. The “lean startup method” and the so-called minimum viable product (MVP) are two major trends in startup practice. They involve developing an offering, whether a product or service, very close to the market or the target customers. Instead of relying on long product development and only launching the final product, you should have the courage to place it on the market at an early stage and improve it step by step. Be cautious about investing time in experimentation with a product — focus on sales and everything else will follow.
3. Get The Right Employees
The success of a startup stands and falls with the team. Before you think about expanding, you need to be sure you have the right team with the right mindset on board. As a founder, you should create a certain culture that takes people out of their comfort zone and makes them think out of the box. The composition of the founding team is thus a core component for the later success of the company and also one of the greatest challenges in the startup phase. Hire team members who share your vision. Complementary skills and ways of thinking are needed as they will help to build an organization to find creative solutions to the problems lying in the future.
4. Make Technology Your Friend
It is no secret that companies in all industries apply their value chains to digitization. At our startup, Properti, we use versatile technologies, tools and processes. On the one hand, recognizing new technologies as a friend brings benefits for the economic success of your company and, on the other hand, they make the everyday work of your employees more efficient. To ensure that there are no frictional losses during the introduction, it is crucial to involve employees in the process right from the start, to inform them at an early stage and to explain the benefits. Have the courage to implement new technologies and consider technology as part of the game. Only then can your business grow.
5. Customer Is King — Identify Customer Needs
“Customer is king” is the motto of many companies working on long-term customer relationships. According to the latest McKinsey Global Survey of executives, the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated customer interactions’ digitization by several years. With the advance of digitalization, not only has the purchasing behavior of customers changed, so have their wishes. Therefore, it is crucial to create added value for the customer, to build trust through transparency, and make sure that the customers feel in control of their interactions. Once that’s done, use your customers to constantly gather feedback, grow together and establish your product or service to the fullest. Feedback should not only be used to identify weaknesses but also to become aware of one’s strengths. In this way, your company comes to self-reflection, to a changed self-perception and to improving itself overall for the next big step.
In summary, similar to the beginnings of your startup, you should plan in detail how you want the growth phase to go. Certainly, the goals of each company are different, as are the people who are expected to achieve them. Leaders know success as an entrepreneur requires passion and risk. Be aware that you have to act differently in various situations to achieve your goals — no matter how many obstacles you encounter along the way. New laws or market changes, especially in real estate, are part of business. In such situations, explore new ways to solve problems, make consistent decisions and set clear priorities for yourself and your team. Especially as an entrepreneur in the tech industry the “thinking big” approach shouldn’t be underestimated. You have to think big in order to take the necessary steps that will move your company, and also the industry, forward.
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