Common misconceptions when going global - part 1

Common Misconceptions when Going Global – Part 1

As a solopreneur, you’re probably always looking to grow your business to make it more profitable.

And there will definitely come a moment when you start considering global growth as an option.

Because creating flexible revenue streams through worldwide sales is just too good an option to be ignored, right?

However, business owners tend to have many misconceptions about how to actually go global. Which makes sense if you’re new to the international scene.

In this two-part blog series, I’ll show you the misconceptions I frequently notice so you can see whether any of them apply to you – and overcome them.

That way you can make sure nothing stands in the way of your global business journey.

To do that, I’ve split the most common misconception when going global into two categories:

Category A describes solopreneurs who are overreaching a little bit, i.e. overachievers who want to conquer the whole world all at once. That’s what we’ll cover here, in part 1.

Category B describes the other end of the spectrum: solopreneurs who have doubts and worries about going global, to the extent that they hesitate and keep postponing global expansion – even though they know how much potential it has. We’ll cover this type in depth in part 2.

So, let’s dive into category A the overachiever:

Misconception #1: Bigger is better

One of the most frequent misconceptions an overachiever has is that “bigger is better”. They believe selling to as many countries as possible is the best way to go to become globally successful.

The reasoning behind that is the bigger your audience is, the more sales you can make. Sounds logical, right?

But beware: Handling multiple markets across the globe with the limited resources you have as a solopreneur (time and money-wise) can easily become too much to handle.

You most certainly won’t be able to focus on each of your markets equally and provide your customers with the experience they deserve.

Keep in mind you’re not experienced in global marketing yet. Going all in like that is a little like wanting to learn to swim by being part of the Olympic swim team. 

The best approach to entering new markets is to enter just one country first. This way you can learn, adjust and get an understanding of what it’s like to run your business in a new market.

If you want, you can always scale up later and use all that valuable experience you’ve gained to effectively apply it to more markets.

But, as I said, don’t worry about that for now. Start with one country first. You might even realise that your domestic and just one more market are the perfect fit for you.

Misconception #2: Google Translate is my best friend for going global

I know it sounds tempting to just create your website and all your other sales copy in another language (or even many more languages) with the click of a button and without paying a penny.

But: Google will actually rank your website lower if you translate your content with Google Translate. (Say what?!)

And even though machine translation tools might be getting better and better, they’re not suitable for marketing copy. They will make your texts sound slightly off and won’t be very convincing for your new customers abroad.

Other reasons to stay away from machine translation on your global business journey include that if you use them you’ll be completely neglecting the culture of your new customers and won’t address their specific questions, worries and needs in your web copy.

By presenting your new audience with a mediocre, careless and lifeless version of your website, you indirectly communicate to them that you don’t care about them.

That you don’t want to put any effort into winning them over. And that you’re only hoping to gain more customers quickly to make money fast.

And if you’re being completely honest with yourself, they’d be right, wouldn’t they?

Let me assure you, this isn’t the best way to grow your solopreneur business globally. Germans especially are keen on good quality and willing to pay for it. And, for them, bad copy translates to bad product quality. Meaning they won’t buy.

Instead, find a freelance translator you can partner with and who can get your original message across exactly the way you want to so you can delight your new customers with what you have to offer.

Misconception #3: I am a global business, because I sell my products on the world wide web

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Having your own website or online shop only means that it’s technically possible to access your business and products from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

And that’s it.

But when you created your website, you probably did that with a domestic market viewpoint. And that doesn’t mean you automatically attract an international audience.

To achieve that, to really deliver that wow-factor for customers in other parts of the world, there’s a little more work to do.

Consider things like language, visuals, colour schemes, payment methods, shipping fees, type of information provided, prices, the overall shopping experience, alternatives in your target countries and more.

This all plays a role when customers are browsing your website and deciding whether to buy.

So, what to do? Adapt your website to your different target markets, which means: create different versions of it that are tailored to the needs, expectations and preferences of customers in those markets.

Misconception #4: I don’t need to analyse my new customers because they are just like my domestic customers

How do you know that if you haven’t analysed them?

I know, I know. Creating your ideal customer avatar probably wasn’t one of your favourite tasks when you set up your solopreneur business.

And analysing a new target group in a completely different country, maybe even with another language, can seem really hard. So, maybe you’ve simply taken the easy option and thought: well, they’re probably the same.

Unfortunately, if your new customers come from different country to your domestic ones, then they’re not comparable. The simple fact of living in another country and having a different cultural background makes them a different kind of consumer.

And that means the marketing strategy that you created with your domestic customers in mind will fall flat in your new market if you don’t make the effort to take a really close look at who the new customer you’re planning to sell to is.

So, do your homework, put in the necessary effort, and analyse your new market and customers and tweak your marketing accordingly. It will make all the difference. 

Misconception #5: English is understood all over the world

If you’re thinking that by being an English-native business you’re automatically a global business, you’re not alone. Believing that English is spoken by the majority of people across the globe is probably one of the biggest misconceptions out there.

However, if you really want to be successful in new markets, sticking with English isn’t enough.

While it’s true that English is considered the number one business language, that doesn’t mean consumers around the world are comfortable buying in a language other than their mother tongue.

In fact, the new report “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy – B2C” by independent market research firm CSA Research reveals that 76% of online shoppers prefer to buy products in their own language. And 40% won’t buy from websites in other languages.

That’s quite a few customers you’re missing out on, simply because you’re sticking to English.

And, in Germany’s case there are specific reasons you shouldn’t sell in English specifically to German consumers.

For example, Germans are simply used to shopping and consuming everything in German. And even though most of them learn English in school, many of them aren’t comfortable browsing websites and checking terms and conditions in that language. And that goes for all age groups.

Also, German customers want safety. And having to browse your products in a foreign language that they’re not comfortable in is just a little too risky for their taste.

As you can see, the best way to really make your business an international success is to communicate in your customers’ language.

Summary:

Taking your solopreneur business global is a great way to grow it.

But if you’re new to the international scene then you most probably have a few misconceptions about it. These can range from believing the more markets you target the better, to believing a website is all it takes to be “international”.

What all these misconceptions have in common is that they guarantee that you’ll fail to achieve your global growth goals.

But in the same way, if you manage to learn from them and overcome them, they can be your ticket to international success.

And that’s one of the most rewarding experiences for businesses, especially solopreneurs.

👉 Make sure you keep an eye out for the second post in this series, when we’ll dive into the misconceptions that hesitant business owners usually have.

👉 Or subscribe to my newsletter to receive a reminder when the blog post goes live.

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