How to expand a small business internationally

I live in Slovenia, a small country on the sunny side of the Alps. (Just to make it clear, Slovenia, not Slovakia.) Our small county has a population of only two million people and this fact has good and bad consequences. One of the good ones is that we all know each other. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but our smallness has a big impact on our lives. This also means that in industries like IT, I find a special opportunity in knowing the whole community.

I started my professional career in 2001 as a software developer and I really enjoyed writing code, wearing the headphones and talking to nobody except my computer. But as we all know, bad programmers sooner or later became managers, and I got my long awaited promotion to a position where I could became a Gantt chart ninja. Thankfully I fell in love with agile methodologies and the most widely used the agile method called Scrum which eventually resulted in quitting my job and opening my own agile consulting company.

What happens once you decide #whentojump?

After five years I’m still on my own, love my work and am happier than ever. I’m still a one-man band because I really like the philosophy: “Never have a boss, never be a boss.” I work with big and small companies and their teams to adopt agile methods and to build better products, faster. OK, more or less small companies because we don’t really have big companies in Slovenia — but that’s all relative, isn’t it? In addition, I organize the Agile Slovenia conference every year and, for many years now, I also have been organizing various agile workshops with guest trainers.

I enjoy organizing events where participants have the opportunity to learn about the latest trends applied in successful companies all over the world.

I became a Management 3.0 facilitator in 2012 after reading the book with the same title. The book really resonated with me so I decided that I wanted to organize Management 3.0 workshops in Slovenia to help Slovenian managers become more agile. They need help, trust me. Lars Kolind, a Danish author once wrote that “The current management tradition in Slovenia is outdated and a recipe for failure.” He’s not wrong, but I’m hopeful! And following his recommendation, in the majority of my workshops, I try to “challenge and engage Slovenia’s young leaders.”

Being a Management 3.0 facilitator also turned out to be a great opportunity to expand my business internationally. I’m the only licensed Management 3.0 facilitator in Slovenia, which is good, but it has a very small market for agile and leadership trainings. After I organized several workshops in Slovenia I decided to try to organize Management 3.0 workshops in other countries, too. First I was anxious if this is a good decision because I wasn’t sure if I was capable enough to organize and do the workshop outside of Slovenia.

It turned out that it was a wise decision because I’ve already managed to organize Management 3.0 workshops in Prague and Milan.

When expanding your small business to another country, your network is your best friend

Both workshops were organized with a help of my close friends from the agile community, Zuzana Sochova from Czech Republic and Andrea Provaglio from Italy. In both cases we made an agreement that they would do all the things related to the organization of the workshop, like find the venue, manage the marketing, recruit participants and collect the registrations fees. My part of the agreement was just to be the trainer of the Management 3.0 workshops. This way of collaboration has proved to be very successful. I would not be able to organize a workshop in a foreign country on my own and I strongly recommend that you find a local partner who knows the characteristic of the market and speaks a language. It really helps if someone else handles all the logistics and you can really focus on the content and the implementation of the workshop.

Working your local network is key, but, if you don’t have a local network yet, follow the lead of many other facilitators and look for consultancy agencies that will sell your workshops and brand. Yes, they’ll probably split the profit with you, but without them you wouldn’t have hit that market to begin with.

Do I plan to organize more workshops in other countries in the future? Yes, definitely, because it’s a great way of expanding my business internationally and meeting new interesting people that I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to meet.

Have you looked to move your small business abroad? Tell us about it in the comments section below or talk about it in the #entrepreneurs-startup Slack channel.Blog Footer

Comments

  1. Congratulations on your success, insights like these are valuable to people waiting for the right time “when to jump”. I agree that your network can be your best friend when expanding to another country, another ‘friend’ you can count on is an outsourcing partner, to whom you can delegate non-core tasks that will enable you to focus on your core products or services.

    Comment by Cathy@Microsourcing.com on February 7, 2017 at 4:52 AM

  2. Hi Voranc, thank you for sharing your success story! I grew up, live and work in Austria, only 20 minutes away from Slovenia, and I’m always happy to hear great stories about our wonderful neighbour 🙂 So speaking of networks, let me know if I can assist you with anything in Austria!

    Comment by Eva Reiterer on February 8, 2017 at 7:50 AM

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This article is written by Voranc Kutnik on February 1st 2017.