5 Essentials you Need to get Right before taking your Company Global

By Paul Fifield, Chief Revenue Officer, UNiDAYS

Assuming you’ve got great product/market fit and you have it worked out in terms of capital (ie: you won’t run out of money any time soon), there are five areas you need to get right to make a company work globally, whether it’s in one country or 50.  These are very much the key secrets of the Silicon Valley approach. 

 

  1. Vision & Mission

  2. Culture

  3. Values

  4. Hiring (this is fundamental)

  5. Communication

 

Mission & Vision

Getting the mission and vision nailed is really important. It's not easy, and if you haven’t done it yet, I’d suggest making it a company wide initiative, lead by the senior team. Some have just the mission statement, some opt for both a mission and a vision, but the aim is the same - create company wide alignment behind one clear purpose. It should be inspirational, measurable and attainable. 

All decisions then can be set against that clear mission. If an idea, product feature, partnership or initiative does not in some way help to achieve that mission then its not right. And should be ditched. 

 

Culture & Values

Getting this right means you can craft and then maintain a consistent culture across the company no matter how many countries you are in. The ambition should be that you could take down the company signs from your office, but you would know the company you had walked into. 

Culture is the collective personality of your company - not just today but also what you aspire to be. The values are the ways you expect people to behave that then create the culture itself. They are the operating principles that also guide day to day decision making.  Getting culture and values nailed means you know the kind of people you are looking for in hiring, it hugely influences on-boarding, training, performance evaluation etc etc. It really is the glue that binds.  

The secret here with Mission and Vision + Culture and Values is all to do with decision making. As you scale into new territories and headcount grows from 100, to 500, to 1000+ thousands of decisions are being made every day assuming there is not an overbearing top down management approach (not fit for purpose for fast growth companies). These tactics help to ensure that decisions are made as if the senior team were making them.   Its what Reid Hoffman describes as a ‘vertical not horizontal’ management approach.

 

Hiring

In ‘How Google Works’ by Eric Schmidt he has a chapter called ‘Hiring - The Most Important Thing You Do’.  Because it really absolutely is - people are everything and getting the right talent will transform your chances of success.  I would suggest reading both Eric’s book plus ‘Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead’ by Lazlo Bock, Google’s head of People for inspiration.   

And please don't say "well, we’re not Google we cant possibly do that". Within these two books there are many ways, without any resource, that you can improve your hiring process overnight and lower your chance of making very damaging or even fatal hiring mistakes.  Having your mission, vision, culture and values down is really key here. 

Getting a world class hiring process in place is fundamentally important before you put the foot on the gas of international expansion. So do it! 

 

Communication 

Finally communication. Company wide and one to ones are crucial.  

Company All Hands

I would suggest every 2 weeks for a company all hands is about right. Google since the beginning have done it weekly (TGIF - thank Google its Friday), but I think every 2 weeks is the better cadance. And the All Hands shouldn’t be lead only by the senior management team, but provide a platform for others in the company to talk on specific areas of interest. It breeds a culture of openness and transparency which smart, invested people will like.  

 

One on One’s

I have teams in 6 offices, from Sydney to London, Silicon Valley to New York. I can honestly say none of them feel like remote outposts because of my regular weekly one to ones and team calls that I do. In the beginning when teams or individuals are really new it's not unusual to do a daily 20 min stand-up to make sure questions are answered quickly and people feel supported. 

These regular calls, with shared docs to create agendas and track action items also have a powerful unifying and team bonding effect.  Everyone has different styles but I also set aside time to talk more freely about any topic, both personal and work related as if they were a colleague sitting near you in your own office. 

 

 Paul Fifield, Chief Revenue Officer, UNiDAYS, is speaking at Global Expansion Summit 2017.

5 Things to Consider when Setting a Corporate Risk Agenda

By Carolyn WilliamsDirector of Corporate Relations, Institute of Risk Management

Risk management is not new. No doubt the Egyptians had some form of risk management in place when building the pyramids, although their risk appetite in relation to health and safety was probably a bit different to that of today’s construction companies. Some years ago Stephen Carver of Cranfield gave a brilliant lecture for us proving that William didn’t become the Conqueror because he was the best soldier, but because he was the best risk manager around.

Risk is a natural part of corporate and individual existence. We all want to change the world in some way and that might go well, or it might not. Some things we can control, others we can only be prepared for. But without risk there can be no progress and no reward. Expanding business, particularly into global markets, is always going to be challenging, but there are things that can help organisations prepare themselves for a smoother ride.

 

Context

Risk does not exist in a vacuum. Useful talk about risk is always linked to objectives. Your organisation first of all has to be clear on its strategy, what it wants to do and on what success means. What do you want to achieve? How will you know when you’ve achieved it? What will be the measure of success? What do you need to protect (think financial, physical, human and environmental assets, bearing in mind that a big proportion of value today is found in intangible assets including brand)? What will the tolerances be – there may be a range of acceptable outcomes. Then you can talk about risk – what might stop you achieving your objectives? And also, what are the opportunities that might help you exceed your objectives? The risks you identify can be external (for example political developments in key markets or failures of third party contractors) or they could be internal (like loss of key personnel, a flooded factory or a cyber attack).

In the long-term organisations don’t get good at risk management in isolation: it goes hand in hand with getting good at all aspects of management.

 

Culture

Identifying risks, and putting together plans to manage them, is important but not quite enough. Over the past couple of decades we’ve seen the introduction of more standards, regulations, codes and management controls than ever before. But we’re still seeing problems occurring when people just don’t behave as you expect them to.

Whether it’s not following set procedures, bad judgement calls, groupthink or perverse incentives, organisations need to be aware of the impact of their culture on their risk environment. How people behave in your organisation can mean that they take too much risk, or possibly not enough.

 

Complexity

Growth, mergers and takeovers, globalisation and management trends towards outsourcing and shared services mean that delivering any sort of product or service, whether mobile phones or child protection, relies on complex networks.

Organisations need to take time to really understand not only their supply chain vulnerabilities, but also the wider ‘extended enterprise’ that comes together to support their operations and which might include parties such as regulators, customers and the dangerous factory next door. Risks have a nasty habit of being interconnected, or, like buses, arriving together. This can quickly wreck a complex, but fragile, operating model.

 

Clockspeed

Linked with the complexity of modern business is the speed at which things move these days. Business is getting faster – and hence the time to respond to some risks is getting shorter. Some decisions need to be made at speed and unless the organisation has invested in preparation and good information they are not likely to be quality decisions.

 

Competence

To maximise the chance of achieving objectives and being able to take advantage of opportunities, organisations need to ensure that they are good at risk management. As with other skill areas like finance, specialists will be needed to drive the process and advise at all levels, but there is also a need for a wider appreciation of risk across the management team. Most large organisations, and those with mature risk management processes, will be seeking to embed risk-based thinking across the company, building it into project processes, decision making and talent management. In an increasingly uncertain world, risk management is a skill everyone is going to need.

Carolyn Williams will be speaking at the 2017 Global Expansion Summit

3 Tips for Entrepreneurs whose Ventures have not Gone to Plan

By Paul Fifield, Chief Revenue Officer, UNiDAYS

 

1.     Without wanting to sound cliché, write down what didn’t go to plan to learn as much as you can from it - despite all the content out there you learn the best when the world puts you on your ass!

 

2.     Think deeply about the business model you used - think hard about taking risk out the business model you choose next time

I’ve been up-close and personal with 3 business models in my time, Marketing / Digital agency, SaaS and Consumer internet (monetizing audience).

Marketing/Digital Agency: I doff my cap to anyone that can grow a large agency from scratch. It’s the hardest model by far. Your business is your talent, headcount (read cost) and revenue are linear and it’s crazy hard to differentiate your business against others in the space.  And boy is it a crowded space as the barrier to start is so low.  It was way too hard for me!  

Small watch out – you won't get much better than 1x your revenue in value. 

SaaS: SaaS is great once you get to around $5m ARR but is VERY expensive to scale.  To build an enterprise product takes millions of dollars and you have to build expensive sales and marketing operations well ahead of revenue. Then there’s the small matter of product market fit.

You will enjoy much better multiples here.  5-10X revenue depending on revenue growth and market potential. 

Consumer Internet: Scaling an audience as part of this business model has seemed to been the easiest so far, especially when you have inherent revenue model like we do at UNiDAYS which is a share of the revenue we generate. But in saying that, my perspective is distorted because the business was so crazy successful before I joined. We were 15 people two years ago, and now we have grown to 200. It’s not always that easy. For example, internet audience businesses can be vastly expensive if your business model is advertising and you need to scale audience before the ad dollars roll in like Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat who raised $3.5bn, $1.1bn and $2.7bn respectively of cumulative investment before their IPOs.

Again multiples will be strong – the faster you’re growing the better they will be.  Even Facebook today is 14x revenue. 

 

3.     Dont give up and read some Churchill quotes! My favourite is: “The definition of success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm’. Which is a cooler way of saying don’t give up.  If you do then this entrepreneurial game wasn’t meant for you anyway, but at least you tried.  Something else that works in the psychological war you face as an entrepreneur is think of all doubters and muster the energy to prove them all wrong!

 

Paul Fifield, Chief Revenue Officer, UNiDAYS, will be speaking at the Global Expansion Summit in 2017.

5 reasons that Scotland is big on big data

For a small country, we’re doing big things with data. Here’s why the Scottish data science sector is booming – and why you should join us.

  • Academic expertise in data science

Scotland may only have 8.3% of the UK’s population, but our universities run 41% of the UK’s data science master’s courses.

Over 3,000 students in Scotland graduate in a computing/informatics discipline each year, and this number is growing thanks to continued investment in data science education. The Data Lab plans to expand its MSc scholarship programme to 130 students for 2017/18 – an increase of over 40% from last year.

  • Support from The Data Lab

The Data Lab is an innovation centre that helps organisations innovate by using data science and analytics. It more than doubled the number of projects that it supported last year, which means its projected contribution to the Scottish economy has jumped to £70m, with the data projects expected to create over 250 new jobs in Scotland.

  • A world-leading data festival

Edinburgh played host to the inaugural DataFest this year, a data festival that explored the successes, challenges and future of data innovation. With a theme of #DataChangesEverything, the event put the spotlight on how data can transform our everyday lives.

DataFest attracted more than 2,000 global data leaders from around the world, with speakers and attendees from over 40 countries.

  • A track record of investment

Scotland boasts a unique infrastructure of world class academic institutions and an inspiring landscape of start-ups and entrepreneurialism, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing more international organisations take advantage of what’s on offer here.

Intel has partnered up with the University of Edinburgh through the Alan Turing Institute to develop algorithms that will influence the future of computing and data analytics. For Intel, Edinburgh was the ideal location to create a hub of expertise that would allow them to engage with the wider data science community.

Data talent was a key reason that Irish company Asystec chose to establish a centre of excellence for big data services in Scotland. The centre focuses on storage and backup solutions, data governance and data management.

Most recently, Morsum, a food tech start-up based in New York, decided to invest $3 million in a data excellence hub in Edinburgh.  Founder Ted D’Cruz cited Edinburgh’s rich data science and academic community as an important factor in his decision to come to Scotland.

  • Homegrown success

Scotland has around 150 companies that are actively engaged in creating data-based solutions - and they’re doing some pretty amazing things.

Some of our key data companies include:

  • Ecometrica – provides a comprehensive software platform for corporate sustainability and data management
  • Aridhia – a cloud-based analysis platform that uses NHS data to provide insight into the root cause of chronic conditions
  • Moneydashboard.com - a personal financial assistant that shows you exactly where your money goes and helps you make better decisions.
  • IDCo – Set out to create a layer of trust in the internet through a trusted online identity system.
  • Brainnwave -  a new and innovative global marketplace for data, committed to democratising the discovery of and access to data to ignite global innovation.
  • Amiqus - a legal-tech software company, building tools that make civil justice available to everyone through open data.

Gillian Docherty, CEO of the Data Lab, has become something of a celebrity in the data world. She was crowned CEO of the Year at the 2017 Digital Tech Awards, and was listed in the top 10 of the UK’s 100 most influential people in data-driven business by DataIQ. She will be speaking in the "Doing Business in Scotland" seminar at the Global Expansion Summit from 12:00pm-1:30pm on 19 June.

HOW TO DEVELOP AN INTERNATIONAL PRICING STRATEGY

Developing a pricing strategy for any market is a complicated task—there are so many different factors that go into creating it. Developing an international pricing strategy can be even more challenging. It still involves the many domestic pricing factors, but also includes unknowns, often making it an even more difficult task. Additional factors could include unexpected taxes, currency fluctuations, unfamiliar banking structures, and regulatory and compliance differences. Developing a well thought-out international pricing strategy is vital to the success of your international expansion. Globig’s step-by-step guide to Developing an International Pricing Strategy will help you through the process. 

Why is it important to have a country-specific pricing strategy?

International pricing is one of the most challenging pieces of international marketing. To be competitive in a new market, you must adjust your prices to the local market. And because each market is different, you will need a different pricing strategy for each new market you enter. These variables include the factors listed above, i.e., taxes and currency, but also customer and cultural differences.

 

How can the Globig Guide help me create an international pricing strategy?

Globig’s pricing guide was created by experts with years of first-hand experience creating pricing strategies for new, foreign markets. The guide aims to help you to identify market-specific factors that will impact your margins, select your international commercial terms (Incoterms), and calculate your international price. The guide includes step-by-step details about the creation of your international pricing, along with links to other resources such as podcasts and expert tips. And, when you download the Guide, you will also receive Globig’s Top-Down Pricing Calculator, which allows you to input key factors to model different pricing options.

 Because it is important to get your local pricing right the first time, create your international pricing strategy in advance of entering any new market.

Leeds: The Fintech Capital of the North

Fintech is undoubtedly one of the major growth sectors for Leeds City Region. Indeed, as an existing centre of excellence for both finance (as the UK’s second centre for banking, home to over 30 national and international banks) and technology, we are primed and ready to capitalise on the opportunity.

As a report by Leeds City Council has found, Leeds and the wider Leeds City Region have a number of inherent advantages when it comes to Fintech. These include already being home to a large number of companies playing a pioneering role in innovative Fintech arenas, including Panintelligence, Contis, WorldPay and Nostrum Group, and several leading universities producing a pipeline of high quality graduates in this space.

And with recent news that the North of England has lost 310,000 graduates in the last 10 years in a so-called north to south ‘brain drain’, I believe that in the Fintech and wider digital sectors, Leeds City Region is bucking this trend and is actually witnessing a trend towards north-shoring. In other words, many companies are leaving London to set up offices here instead where talent is in abundance - we have the largest concentration of STEM graduates in the UK - office space is a lot more affordable and quality of life is first rate.

Let’s also not forget we have an exciting list of existing strengths from which to draw on, further evolve, and confirm our position at the top of the Fintech table.

Chief among these is our financial services sector. This is the best in the UK outside London, and it is characterised by both tradition and innovation. The region has been home to leading financial institutions since the 18th century, when the first building society outside of the Midlands was established in the city. It is also the birthplace of the first telephone bank in the UK, First Direct.

Alongside this our strengths within the specific areas of payment processing, data analytics and cyber security; set the City Region apart with firms such as BJSS, TSYS and ECSC.

A natural convergence of traditional financial services providers and new Fintech players is inevitable - indeed is already underway - with Leeds and the City Region ideally positioned to host and nurture the next generation of financial services businesses that will emerge as a result.

By actively leveraging our native advantages, which also include the highest concentration of digital, data and technology innovators in the UK, we are already realising our vision.

Couple this with the work of organisations such as the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, and our City Region becomes a highly attractive place for global Fintech providers to invest and grow.

All this points to 2017 being the year the Leeds City Region cements its position as the true Fintech capital of the north.

This blog was originally published here. Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership will be exhibiting at the Global Expansion Summit

How to maximise your international payments when scaling your business

By Peter Keenan, Co-Founder and CEO APEXX Fintech

 When scaling your business and growing internationally, its essential to tailor your payments needs to your new markets. Payment acceptance is at the core of commercial capability and getting the best deal – or even a good deal – is difficult because of the opaque nature of the payments industry. The typical single-acquirer model most merchants use is fundamentally flawed and does not give a competitive rate on international payments acceptance.

Cross-border payments incorporate a variety of additional and complex elements that result in acquirers increasing their rates. These can include factors such as costs for currency conversion or the perceived increased risk of international payments, but overwhelmingly acquirers raise prices because they can. Most merchants looking to expand into new international markets simply do not understand their payments acceptance options well enough to look for alternatives, or they are so fully engaged with the other challenges of expansion that exploring new options is not a priority.

If these merchants had the time and appetite to explore properly they would discover integrating with multiple acquires, particularly those local to their new markets, can   enable huge cost saving on FX and basic payments acceptance as well as dramatically increasing conversion rates of transactions. In an industry where there are more than 426 billion cashless payments a year, the savings potential is massive. The business case is clear; diversification drives competition and, consequently, competitive pricing.  

I will be at the 2017 Global Expansion Summit if you want to find out more about how we can help you integrate multiple gateways and acquirers into your payments suite without exhausting time, energy and money entering negotiations..

Peter Keenan will be speaking at the 2017 Global Expansion Summit. Request a meeting here.

Expanding to Latin America? That sounds …. GREAT and challenging!

Relocating and outsourcing may sound troublesome and a difficult task to tackle, especially as much of it requires managing unknowns. Expanding to Latin America? That sounds even tougher.

Actually, that shouldn’t be that complicated. Though Latin America may seem remote, there are several reasons that make this location attractive. First, let’s overview what key factors we need to consider. Then, we will outline how LATAM and Uruguay meet these requirements.

It is common knowledge that whenever different locations are being assessed, there are relevant factors to consider. One of them is labour. Does this market offer the quantity and quality my company needs in order to operate effectively? Does this compensate the cost?

In addition, companies should take into account the country’s stability and reliability. This is a crucial issue when thinking about Latin-American countries. The ideal scenario would be a country devoid of uncertainties in its policies and economy. Does the country’s government have long term policies?

Moreover, telecom infrastructure and connectivity should be important for all sorts of enterprises. They should provide a fertile and dynamic ecosystem in order to let your business flourish.

Given these factors, we would like to focus on Uruguay as an ideal location and as Latin America’s best business gateway.

For over ten years, Uruguay has been a strategic location for global organizations doing business across the LATAM market. In recent years more and more HQs, SSCs, IT and Regional Distribution Centres have been established in Montevideo after companies have realized how they can capitalize on the exciting benefits that it offers.

Though Uruguay sounds distant, its culture is not. Most of the Uruguayan society is composed by European immigrants; it is a real melting pot. So cultural affinity is assured. Great Britain has been inextricably intertwined with Uruguay. Not only receiving immigrants but also, British companies have left Uruguay an enduring legacy. For instance, the Uruguayan railways and public services such as running water, telephone, gas and trams were first established by British companies. Uruguay bears a close resemblance to Great Britain, possibly the closest in LATAM.

This has not changed. Today companies such as AIVA, Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA) and LOGICALIS (among others) are settled in Uruguay. These and other companies find themselves enjoying of Uruguay’s reliability, talent, nearshore, a tax compliant government and a tranquil lifestyle. These are the five main pillars of Uruguay’s value proposition. 

Rankings show Uruguay’s advantages as Uruguay has been consistently leading Latin America and the Caribbean rankings relevant to investors:

Uruguay Smart Services will be exhibiting at the Global Expansion Summit in 2017.