Home The International Cheat Sheet for Startups and Small Businesses

The International Cheat Sheet for Startups and Small Businesses

Launching your small business can be a daunting concept. There are a thousand and one things to sort out, and if you’re a brand new startup, it’s easy to feel the extreme force of overwhelm, anxiety, and panic. 

But, here at Zutobi, we’ve made things simple again with our International Cheat Sheet for Startups and Small Businesses. 

Let’s review — What is a Startup?

Before we go any further, let’s clear up any confusion about the term “startups.”

If you’re a startup, it means you:

  • Are a young company that is just “starting up.”
  • Have less than 100 people working for you.
  • Are one of the following six types of startups: lifestyle startups, small business startups, scalable startups, buyable startups, large company startups, or social startups. 

Startups are full of drive, determination, and passion for their business. But, more often than not, they lack the practical experience they need to avoid the pitfalls and reach their goals in a time that suits them. 

For International Issues in Your Startup — This Cheat Sheet Comes into Play

Rule 1: Test the Waters, But Don’t Commit Before You Spot Traction

Any business investment is a risk. That’s why it’s so crucial not to overcommit before you can monitor positive progress. 

Think about it like cooking. A successful chef will tell you that the most critical cooking method amongst any and every cuisine is something you can do for free: to taste your food.

It’s only through tasting your culinary masterpiece that you’re made aware of the ingredients it’s lacking, what it needs more of, and what you need to dial down on. 

In your business, this is precisely the same. Monitoring your data within a campaign or project is the number one strategy for growth. Digesting and analyzing your figures is your way of sampling your food. 

If you go all-in with a kilogram of salt because you felt your dish needed more salt, it’ll quickly become too salty and inedible. Meaning, the dish you worked hard on would go straight in the trash. 

But, if you were to taste your existing food, you’d know it needed only a pinch of salt to elevate it to the next level of flavor. 

The takeaway? Taste your numbers. It’s only then that you’ll realize whether to spit them out, add more, or start from scratch. 

Rule 2: Focus on the Markets That Drive Your Revenue 

When marketing your business, you’ll quickly discover that each demographic will make a different dent in your revenue. 

Again, it’s about analyzing your data regularly and understanding which market is purchasing which product or service. 

You’ll want to dedicate your time, effort, and money to a market that drives your revenue. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to persuade a demographic that they need your product when they’re clearly not interested. 

Get to know the demographics you’re pitching to — and understand the differences — both small and large – between them.

You can then fit the puzzle together to why a specific group is buying more from you than the other. 

It’s essential that you understand the story behind the data. And, once you’ve done so, focus on the market that’s driving your revenue the most. 

For example, we understand that the younger demographic who are just learning how to drive dominate our market. While other driving test apps may be niched toward adult learners, ours is used predominantly by the younger generation. So, we focus on that market as they drive our revenue.

In our Pennsylvania permit tests, for example, we made sure to mimic the communication style of our audience. We studied the language choice carefully to make sure our content appeals to them.

Rule 3: Test Different Marketing Platforms and Know That Different Platforms Work in Different Countries

Small businesses often overlook this rule. 

There are hundreds of online courses that teach the secrets of successful marketing. And, seeing as they’re all available online, you could be taught by someone from anywhere in the world.

The difference is, of course, that what works for them may not work for you.

For example, social media marketing is a strong marketing strategy. However, depending on the country you’re selling to, you’ll see spikes in usage across all the different social networking platforms. 

China, for example, has strict website restrictions, and many social networking sites are unavailable. So, the population of China uses a different platform from the people of America. 

If you were trying to launch your business in China, you’d need to know this to avoid spending money on social media ads for them to fall on flat ears. 

You can be even more specific when it comes to marketing platforms and locations. The content you put out there needs to be well adjusted to the area it’s matched to. 

Our range of practice permit tests for 2021 has been created with the location in mind. We’ve got a massive range of 30 free online tests for our audience. They range from practice tests based in Utah to Missouri to many other states around America. 

Where are you going to market your startup or small business?

Consider affiliate marketing tactics, email marketing, and search engine optimization as methods of marketing. Just ensure you do your market research and understand the marketing status of the location. 

Rule 4: Don’t Go Too Broad With Your Marketing Before You Find Marketing Campaigns That Work

Spreading your brand too thin on the ice can have disastrous effects on your revenue. 

If you choose to dedicate your efforts across seven different marketing platforms, it will be tricky to monitor an accurate representation of what is working and what isn’t, especially if you are doing this alone or even in a small team.

No matter what form they take, your marketing tactics require a solid amount of time to make a story. Unless you have a clear idea of a beginning, middle, and end, it’s impossible to state whether it was or wasn’t practical. 

It may take some time before you find a marketing campaign that works for your brand with your target audience. However, when you do find it, it’s like you’ve won the lottery. 

Once you’ve discovered your ideal marketing platform and campaign, you’ll need to expand your local variants to all markets. 

You can do this by adding more products or services to your site, target new markets, and/or co-branding with another business within your industry. 

Rule 5: Don’t Try to Sell to Customers That Don’t Want Your Product. Focus On the Ones You Can Convert

This is fundamental to business development.

If you are working hard to persuade a specific demographic that your product or service can change lives, you’re marketing to the wrong customers. 

This is a monumental waste of time. 

If customers don’t want your product, don’t try to convince them that it’s worth their time. This is signifying that you need to change your target demographic.

And don’t see this as a negative. While it didn’t gain you sales, it did help you learn a clear lesson that this specific audience did not respond to your product. So, you can scratch them off your list. 

Of course, you can, to a certain extent, avoid this by doing your market research in-depth. 

To launch a successful business, you need to have an obvious idea about who you’re selling to. Part of the puzzle is that they’re receptive to your brand, products, services, and transformations. 

You’ll need to focus on the type of customers or clients that genuinely convert. Probe deeper into their life and try to spot patterns between each customer.

Try to gain as many reviews as possible from those who bought from you. This way, you can analyze them and find similarities. The more you do this, the clearer your avatar will be. Once you have a solid understanding of who your brand sells to, you can personalize them through your messaging. 

Rule 6: Try to Become a Household Name in at Least 1 Country Or Market – If You’re Too Spread Out, Your Brand And Organic Revenue Will Suffer

This rule goes above and beyond ‘great marketing.’ The marketing side of things will, if done right, influence this next step.

Being a household name means you’re the preferred brand within that industry. 

Dyson, for example, controls 20.7% of the market for vacuum cleaners in the US. 

They’re a firm household name, focusing closely on the average family in their marketing tactics. 

It’s crucial to focus on one demographic or location at a time. Once you’ve mastered one and become a household name for that audience, you can conquer another demographic. 

If you try to spread yourself out too thin, you will negatively impact your business’s revenue. 

The key is in knowing. Understand your demographic as best you can. The more specific the target audience, the deeper you can probe to understand their pain points and general life. That way, your marketing can speak directly to them, resulting in more sales and more considerable revenue. 

Rule 7: Enter A New Market Only After Thorough Research

As we said in Rule 6, once you’ve mastered one market or location, you can move on to the next.

But do so with caution. 

You should not now, nor should you ever, enter a new market without thorough research. 

Every demographic has a different set of qualities, problems, likes, dislikes, fears, and day-to-day routines that your brand needs to acknowledge and cater to in their marketing for maximum success.

If, for example, you gained an excellent response from an audience in New York, with female buyers ranging between 21 and 30, you’d need thorough research to sell the same product or service to an all-male audience from Hawaii, between the ages of 50 and 60. 

There’s very little that these two demographics have in common. So, to break that market wide open, you need to understand their need for this product. 

Without thorough market research, you’ll find it challenging to make the sales you need to drive your revenue. 

Rule 8: Become A Thought Leader By Providing New Insight Into Your Niche

Knowing the typical issues and opinions within your niche is good.

Providing new insights and revolutionary methods is excellent. 

So, up-level your brand from good to great today.

You’ll need to stay up to date with the latest trends and thoughts surrounding your industry, and more specifically, your niche. 

Use social media to explore the competition, and analyze their common talking points. 

You could take it even further by reading through the comments left by their target audience. If they’re a direct competitor, you can learn from their engagement, picking up on the language used by the audience and the response specific themes receive. 

Use this to evolve your content and marketing, making sure to always be relevant and modern.

Convey your excellent subject knowledge through your content strategy, showing the world that you are an authority within your niche. 

You should aim for your brand to be the equivalent of Google within your industry.  

Rule 9: Understand That Different Markets Respond To Different Messages

This is true for all demographics. While it’s evident that different countries will react differently to different messages based on cultural influence and sociolinguistics, zooming in even more will show you that every demographic will respond in different ways. This can be through slight intricacies of the more extreme contrasts. 

Either way, the difference in demographics should be at the forefront of your mind when mapping out your marketing strategy

Demographic traits include:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Occupation
  4. Family size
  5. Income
  6. Family status 
  7. Education level 

The variation for all of these sectors will determine how an individual responds to certain words and structures. There’s a level of psychology to positioning the right message for specific audiences. 

While a younger audience may appreciate slang in your marketing, an older, more corporate audience may not. 

The way to nail this is simply by understanding and knowing your audience as best as you can.

You should aim to know your audience as well as you know yourself. A steep ask, we know. But, you should shoot for the moon, and if you can’t quite get to that level, you’ll still land amongst the stars.

Rule 10: Ensure Your Company Can Handle The Burden Of Multiple Tax Systems And Shipping Logistics (If Applicable)

When starting up your business, your passion, determination, and drive are on full steam. It can sometimes lead to forgetting about your tax systems and shipping logistics.

While, admittedly, these are the more ‘grey areas of business, they still exist and need careful thought and preparation. 

Consider Shipping Tax, especially if you’re making your products available in different countries. Shipping Taxes will vary depending on location, so if you’re opening up this feature, be prepared to do your research and learn what applies to your business. 

This should also play a role in adding shipping charges. If you’re going to offer a ‘free shipping’ deal for an order over a specific price, it’s crucial to understand how much profit you’ll make with this. Monitor the numbers and make sure they factor into your strategy. 

Plan For Success

Starting a small business is an exciting endeavor. But, if you want to see your business succeed, you need to plan in advance. Using our cheat sheet (and keeping your eyes set on your goal) can help get you there.

Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels; thank you!

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Leo Waldenback
Co-Founder of Zutobi

Leo Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Leo founded Zutobi to make world-class driver's education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.

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