SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

The Challenges of Internationalising a Startup

Working on creating a successful startup is challenging at the best of times. However, once you’ve set up your website, your business model, your products and your services, there’s still the biggest problem to face. Expansion.

Today, we’ll explore some of the most common challenges that startups like yours face when trying to boom into the global market and how you can overcome them.

Not Starting Early

One of the biggest mistakes that start-up companies make when trying to secure their position on the global Mapnetwork is leaving it too late. Every decision you make needs to consider the fact that you’re planning to globalize in the future.

Even down to a basic level of choosing the name of your brand. You may have come up with a really awesome name for your startup but have you considered how well received it will be in other countries. In some cases, it might even be offensive, in which case you’ll need to adapt and move forward.

Overcoming the Language Barrier

Let’s face it, not everybody in the world speaks English. Or at least fluently enough for them to understand your website. To overcome the language barrier, you’re going to need to think about translating your pages in the near future. If you want your startup to definitely be a global entity, you’ll need to start thinking of this early on in your development.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply copy and paste your content into Google Translate. Although this will do the basics, it won’t be able to translate full sentences and thousands of words accurately. Instead, you’ll need to use a professional translator who’s fluent in the languages. Fortunately, there are several sites that can carry out this process on your behalf such as UK top writers and Best Australian writers. Simply find which one best suits you.

Ensuring Expansion is Right for You

Sometimes, startup companies will move to the international markets simply because they don’t have enough business in their domestic market. However, this is not always the best decision, and the chances are that you aren’t’ receiving business in your domestic market because of your business model.

However, this can be a critical error and will possibly result in your breaking your business due to huge expenditures that won’t pay off. Unless you’re originally planning to operate in another country, always try to conquer your domestic market first before expanding.

Consider Your Communication Methods

Whether you’re operating an online service or selling your products to the world, you’ll need to pay attention to how you’re communicating with your customers and the methods you’re using. For example, you may be using social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, but are these the primary source of communication in certain countries?

Lean Dole, a marketing expert at Viawriting, explains, “You’ll need to explore other options. You could invest in multiple, dedicated email addresses. You may need to think about dedicated country phone support lines. You may even need to consider what prefix you’re going to use on your domain name, such as France (.fr), Spain (.es) etc.”

Increasing Global Credibility

Not only will you need to adapt and customize your content for your online users, but you’ll also want to adapt and personalise your user-generated content. For example, customer reviews and feedback are vital aspects that will contribute to your success. So, you may be highlighting reviews from your own country, but what about promoting the views of others?

Another thing you’ll want to think about is adapting this content to suit the country that you’re promoting in. Every country is different and will have its own mindset, its own culture and its own ideas. It is better to outsource such work to professionals like Academadvisor or Write my essay. You will need to address these if you want your startup business to succeed.

Don’t Risk Poor Customer Experience


Let’s imagine you’re based in the US, and you’ve got an increasing number of customers in China, none of which speak English. Then, let’s say there was a problem with your product or service. Maybe the parcel wasn’t delivered, or your product was faulty. The individual then attempts to contact your company, you answer the phone, but neither of you understands each other.

This is going to seriously harm the reputation, credibility and trustworthiness of your business and it may be extremely difficult to claw back these brownie points. Before you launch your service into another country, it’s vital that you set up the right customer support teams that can handle any queries or complaints.

Not Playing the Long Game

Moving into the international markets is a long game, and many startups will be extremely eager to make the biggest impression that they can, causing them to overlook this consideration.
Instead of trying to steal your competition’s market share in one huge strike, it’s much more effective, and budget-friendly, to chip away at it slowly and gain ground and traction.

Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years of experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs. She believes that constant learning is the only way to success. You can visit her personal blog at Letsgoandlearn.com

 

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Microsoft is releasing Office 2019 next year

 
 
Microsoft Office 2019
 

Microsoft is announcing its next major release of Office today at Ignite in Orlando, with a planned release for next year. Office 2019 (arriving in the second half of 2018) will include the usual Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook client apps, alongside server versions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business. Microsoft is planning to release preview copies of Office 2019 in the middle of 2018, and the software is primarily designed for organizations that aren’t using the cloud Office 365 versions.

Office 2019 will include better IT capabilities for businesses that aren’t using Office 365, and new ink features like pressure sensitivity, tilt effects, and ink replay. Excel will also include new formulas and charts for data analysis, and PowerPoint will pick up the morph and zoom animation features that Office 365 customers are currently taking advantage of.

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The Need for Speed

GoDaddy published the results of a study looking at page load speeds across four website builders: GoDaddy’s GoCentral, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.

Fast page load speed is crucial for business owners when it comes to capturing online sales. A recent study shows that websites taking longer than three seconds to load could potentially lose nearly half of the site’s visitors. Additionally, up to 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a website's performance say they're less likely to buy from the same site again.

GoDaddy’s test of the top four website builders showed that GoCentral’s websites loaded faster than the three other builders, and more than 3x faster than the slowest competitor.

 

Need for Speed

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Smartsheet – Not Your Parent’s Project Management System

I have a dog in this fight. In graduate school my MBA concentration was in project management from a construction industry vantage point (fortunately my skills easily transferred to IT and the rest is history). So when Smartsheet announced its first ever user conference, I marked it as a must do. It was time well spent and, yes, I’ll yelp that I will repeat. Heck 1,000 attendees can’t be wrong (note this was an IT Pro audience with 55% self-selecting as super users).

Smartsheet

Fig 1: Hangin’ with Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader at the September 2017 conference.

What is Smartsheet?

Historically I’ve framed up Smartsheet as online project management on steroids. Growing from a residential house (in Bellevue, WA) in 2005, Smartsheet currently has over 400-employees heading to 800+ within the next 12-months. Today Smartsheet is all about positioning itself as a SaaS application for collaboration and work management using an intuitive spreadsheet-like interface. As the name would imply, the product is a series of “smartsheets” based on the underlying project management paradigm to assign tasks, track project progress, manage calendars, share documents and manage other work. The underlying mission pillars for company transparency, practicality, effectiveness and accountability has resulted in an “…ethos that brought people together in the old yellow house to help companies achieve more...uplifting how we work.” According the CEO Mark Mader in his inaugural keynote address. “We love surveys. We found that you spend 11-hours per week on repetitive tasks and routines. We grossly underestimated how changing the way we work would be disruptive…the web…how expectations had changed, etc.” Loosely translated, Mader is saying, Smartsheet is trying to change work culture. I’d offer it’s trying to do it in far less than one generation (for context, read this interesting article on how a reformed Poland took a 20-year generation to change its culture. http://www.modernsurvey.com/blog/20-years-for-cultural-change) “When Smartsheet was established, we sought to establish a new language for work.” Mader said.

Ease of Use

Clearly the Smartsheet asset is its ease of use. “Smartsheet is about self-help and not taxing IT to work with a SaaS-based collaborative solution.” Mader added.

Will a Robot Take My Job?

Mader’s mission is automation. He hit the Robot fear factor head-on in his keynote. “People are receptive to automation - enables you without coding, to execute, etc. We believe the automation released today will take you to the next level.” Mader is referring to the “Smartsheet Report: Automation in the Workplace 2017” which is survey results released at the conference. Two nuggets are:

65% of workers use some type of automation in their day-to-day work.

78% say automation will allow them to spend more time on the interesting and rewarding aspects of their job.

Bottom line

While the conference as customer facing with IT pros (e.g. Alaska Airlines employee), I can appreciate that spot opportunities for MSPs and partners exist. That’s my next blog!

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My Moto Summer Fling

With the Fall Equinox upon us, I can now share my summer research findings concerning mobility.

This is truly a case of starting over. This summer, I tested the Android-based Moto Z Play2 as part of my journey post-Windows Phone (Nokia 1020). The decision was very simple. Increasingly the apps I want and need were not on the Windows Phone platform. And I’ve been there; done that
with the Apple iPhone (I had the iPhone 3G in 2008). As leading Microsoft partner and IAMCP executive Jeff Shuey said “…time to get appy” when briefed on my intentions. I gave my test unit and the mods a stress test by attending the recent Microsoft Inspire conference (conference in Washington D.C. in July 2017- this conference was formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference “WPC”).

Intel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 1: I’m with a Lenovo rep discussing the Hasselblad True Zoom mod at Microsoft Inspire.

My NEEDS!
Years ago I listed my basic needs in a mobile phone in a blog at SMB Nation. Basically beyond the whiz-bang apps, it amounted to phone service, testing, photos and sound plus battery life. Those are still my core needs and the Moto Z Play2 really excels here. Why?” Because these featured are enhanced via the mods you can attach (and I’ve now tested).

Sound. The JBL-based sound mod, that snaps on to the back of the phone, is really a super cool conference phone feature in my opinion. While at Inspire, I placed several calls on speaker and had multi-person calls (including a few people standing next to me in a busy and loud tradeshow hall. Everyone was impressed. Finally a phone that was a real speaker phone. Bonus was when I stream Xfinity content while traveling (watching CNN), I have world class external audio.

Power. The most useful mod was clearly the Moto Turbopower Pack, a battery recharger (I use it daily). Like anyone, I fiddle with my mobile phone all day every day. I typically hit the later afternoon low energy zone. Viola – I attach the Turbopower Pack (often on my commute home) and return to full power quickly. This is important because the nature of my evening commutes has me away from power.

It should be noted that each of the mods I used came with their own power supply (e.g. up to ten hours power for the speakers or projector). However, these Mod built-in batteries only ran the actual function (e.g. sound, projector) but did not have a reverse current flow to charge the actual phone. Only the Turbopower Pack had that ability. I wish the engineering would support both the device power (speakers, projector) and recharge the phone. Why? Because it’s unlikely I’m going to run my projector for ten hours.

Projector. I used this mod the least but I do feel it’s essential as a mobile businessman. I’ve used it for pleasure, to stream a short high school graduation spoof vid for my son’s big day at the celebration dinner. I’ve used it for business to show web sites, such as a predictive analytics firm, when I was having a business discussion. And I’ve used it to show PowerPoint presentations on the fly (I showed this off at a recent tradeshow where I had a booth). Bonus is that the Moto Insta-Share Projector is available complimentary (as I write this) with the purchase of Moto Z phone (offers may vary). But for free, it’s one hellva must have.

Camera. Truth be told, I only used the internal camera (front and rear) regularly. As a blogger/analyst, the built-in camera(s) are sufficient for my digital media needs. I quickly tested the Hasselblad True Zoom camera in the Lenovo booth at Microsoft Inspire (see Fig 1 above). So it’s hard for me to remember a verdict on the Hasselblad True Zoom camera mod. I was able to zoom into the audience as seen in Fig2 (non-zoom) and Fig 3 (zoom) and clearly see the results. The non-zoom pic was about the same quality as the built-in camera, but I’m a shutterbug and I understand the value of the Hasselblad True Zoom camera for more specialized needs (such as print magazines). This mod has the effect of allowing me to leave my Nikon D5000 SLR at home when I travel for business (the Nikon would still be part of my luggage when I travel to Alaska for scenic photography).

Kindly note one matter concerning the camera function. If you have your phone brightness turned down (to save power), it results in dark pics. For some reason, the auto adjusting/lighting feature just doesn’t work well. Once I restored the phone’s brightness to a sufficient level, my pics got brighter if that makes sense. Learn from Harry on this one.

Jabra Faraway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 2: Broad non-zoom shot using the Hasselblad True Zoom mod.

Jabra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 3: Same shot. Approximately 10x zoom shot using the Hasselblad True Zoom mod.

Android. I’m learning as I go with Android. So far so good with respect to the UI. But there are a few nuances. For example, the Microsoft Office 365 mobile version for Android is not as robust as the Windows Phone version (go figure). The Outlook application, while supporting my multiple business calendars, doesn’t have a proper pop-up notification when an appointment is approaching. Ergo I have missed a few appointments over the summer and have ad to modify my work habits to set alarms with the Clock app. (I’ve tried other calendaring apps such as Business Calendar Version 2.23 but found these apps struggle with supporting multiple business calendars – your reader suggestions are welcome).

My favorite summertime application? Strava. My God – you can accurately record your bicycle rides! It uses the internal GPS capability. See Fig 4.

Chilly Hilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 4: Big Data meets cycling with Strava – my summer bking as part of my Moto Z Play2 mobile app test bed!

A shout out to the FM Radio app (native Motorola Mobility app version 02.02.0146). I can listen to real over-the-air radio when I’m on the ferry/bus or evening travelling in new cities (e.g. Austin, TX) and want to absorb some local sound. Interestingly the FM radio capability is new in the Moto Z Play2 edition; it did not exist in the original Moto Z Play and I was spoiled from this capability with the Windows Phone and my commute time radio listening habit. Bonus: the use of the FM Radio does not consume data or voice minutes on your mobile phone plan (I use AT&T). It behaves like an FM transistor radio (kids won’t get that).

AT&T. As I mentioned, AT&T is my carrier. But the native Moto Z Play2 support is for Verizon. Ergo I used an unlocked phone version to support AT&T. I always worry about having the unlocked version because I don’t feel you get the same performance or patch cadence. But during my summer romance with the Moto Z Play2, I have no quarrels.

Summary

I the start of this blog, I shared I know my needs as a mobile traveler, businessman and media/press analyst blogger: pics, sound, basic phone service, long power, basic apps and hero apps. The Moto Z Play2 meets my needs completely and receives the coveted “Astro” award (Astro is the mascot of SMB Nation). Bravo Moto!

ASTRO APPROVED WWW SMBNATION COM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 5: Moto Z Play2 wins an Astro!

PS – one suggestion. I would be nice to stack mods. For example, If I could have both the projector and the sound mods usable at the same time, my streaming entertainment content would sound divine (instead of the projector defaulting to the internal speaker on the actual phone). Today it’s one mod at a time baby.

PPS – shout out to my friend Jerry Essenpreis, IT Manager at the Bremerton Housing Authority, for encouraging me to you the finger print logon security. After a brief training session capturing my thumb print, it worked splendidly and no need to tap in a PN code.

 

 

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