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Preparing For Expansion

Can you afford the opportunity cost of delaying global expansion?

Can you afford the opportunity cost of delaying global expansion?

Many companies feel frozen at the moment. But the opportunity cost of not conducting business as usual is having a shocking impact on growth, revenue and morale. Businesses are unsure how to progress, and don’t feel confident to apply the same expansion goals of two months ago to their current reality. If you’re feeling like this, then you’re not alone.

But standing still isn’t going to help your business. Pulling down the shutters and hoping you’ll weather the storm doesn’t create an impactful jumping off point for a few months’ time – when we can (hopefully) start to return to some semblance of normality in our workspaces. 

If you batten down the hatches now, you won’t be ready to strike when the moment comes, whilst businesses who have been busy preparing themselves during this period will be the ones to sprint ahead. 

Fortune favours the brave. So if you are able to – and we recognize that we aren’t speaking to every sector or business type here – you can move forward with your international expansion plans. SOLA Group CEO and Founder, Danny Herbert, shares his ideas about how to use this time to start looking beyond lockdown.

What is the opportunity you’re losing out on?

If you find yourself busier than ever because of the pandemic, then it’s time to be proactive, rather than reactive. Danny Herbert explains his advice to these organizations:

Without being reckless, it's the brave, the bold and the forward thinking that will come out of this mostly unscathed. In fact, some people will come out of this showered in gold. The ones that act now – right now – are more likely to see the upside and benefit of that.

It's a bit like buying stocks when they've hit rock bottom. Everyone jumps on the bandwagon when stock is climbing. Successful investor Warren Buffett says when everyone else is buying, you should be selling – ‘Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.’ 

Again, without being irresponsible and putting your business under unnecessary strain, there are ways to rise to the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in globally, reaching out to lend a hand to others, instead of turning inwards. Danny Herbert explains success at this time is about mindset and character:

This is the opportunity to get a pipeline running of the right types of characters you need for your business to gain traction. If companies are going to act now, they need aspirational individuals with the same cultural affiliation as them – people who want to work in a scale-up.

Danny has noticed that the vast majority of PLCs in the US are currently suspending all talk of growth. So his advice is to act now – if you’ve got the cashflow and you’re in the right space, then press forward.

Ask yourself: what's going to happen if you wait? If everyone else is waiting then in six months' time, when everyone's back to hiring, there’s going to be a massive rush. Everyone is going to be in the same position they were in before the pandemic, fighting for the same talent. Every business has target prospect lists – and it’s going to be much easier to reach them over the coming months while everyone is at home – than once they’re back in the office. The competitive advantage is now.

Who should act now?

We know that this isn’t the time for every business to be gung-ho about their expansion options. For some sectors – such as leisure, entertainment and tourism – this is a difficult time which won’t be made better by continuing with the growth targets set up months ago. We acknowledge that for these businesses, staying afloat must be the priority.

But for others, this is a time to step up and help those in this difficult predicament. Opportunity is not the same for everyone, and the last thing we want is to encourage reckless decision making. Danny Herbert has noticed opportunities in particular sectors, based on the clients he speaks to:

Let's define what opportunity means. The opportunity is for certain types of companies – such as SaaS, software, technology, food and goods distribution, healthcare – to be bold.

If you're in one of these sectors, you've likely got a sufficient cash runway. You might also find that your day-to-day workload is relatively unaffected – or more likely it’s boosted. 

The opportunity cost for these organizations of not acting on their overseas expansion plans is massive. It's difficult to quantify in terms of monetary cost, because every company is different, but there is undoubtedly an economic loss for these much-needed areas not to get their infrastructure in place to grow. Danny Herbert summarizes:

We hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime situation. If you can afford it, and if you're in a sector that is going to add some value for people who are isolated and cut off from society – act now. That's my personal message, and that's our company stance.

Why should you continue with your expansion plans now?

At the moment, because people are working from home and no longer commuting, many have more time on their hands. That means those looking to recruit have a captive audience – and with a good internet connection, anything is possible. Danny Herbert explains how we can use the technology we have to our advantage at this time:

People don't need to meet prospective employees or prospective customers face to face. American organizations, in particular, know this because they’ve already been conducting business through Zoom and other platforms for a long time – they’re perfectly set up for this style of working.

If you were to interview people this week for a sales role to start in May, that sales leader would have two whole months – maybe more, depending on lockdown guidelines – to get hold of their prospects. Think of the opportunity gain in that head start. When the dust settles, that salesperson will have already built a pipeline, and spoken to all of their prospects in the time other businesses were sitting tight.

Another reason not to abandon your expansion goals is the available talent pool. Many highly skilled, ambitious workers are currently looking for a new role. Danny Herbert explains that when people find themselves out of work because of the current global situation, and through no fault of their own, they’ll be looking to re-start with scale ups who are striding out in front:

The talent pool available to people like us, whose job it is to go and find top talent for organizations and take care of those new teams, is at an all-time high. We can get hold of them at home, and help get them excited about working with a business like yours.

Anyone who's joining a scale up will have a certain type of risk profile. These people are ‘disrupting’ individuals who want to work hard and bring their cutting-edge experience and skills to a new setting. These characters are just what a scale up company needs – not only in the current climate, but when starting out in a new territory, such as international expansion. Danny Herbert describes these workers and what they add:

Companies need mavericks right now. Street fighting, pioneering, independent-minded types. This isn’t the time for gentle, safe, herd-following characters.

And it’s not just us who believe this. SOLA Group recently recruited a new VP of Sales for Canadian technology consultancy, Teknicor. Ron Miles started his new role in the last couple of weeks and explained why now was a great time to join an ambitious, expanding organization:

I joined Teknicor in the height of the COVID-19 crisis. While it may be uncertain times, the company recognized that things will return to normal in due course, and there's never been a better time to get hold of potential new customers. That opportunity hasn't gone away. So as a forward-thinking technology company, we did not allow the COVID-19 situation to derail our expansion plans.

Teknicor recognized the benefit of long-term planning, and blistering their sales time during the crisis. Don’t follow what competitors, or other markets are doing: break out in what feels right for your business. Keeping your eyes on the horizon is key, as Danny Herbert explains in his final thoughts:

Forward-thinking companies with the right profile to act now are going to accelerate revenue quicker than they would if they waited for everything to settle. The net result of acting now is: quicker revenues, quicker profits, and quicker traction.

If you're in the right industry, don’t delay. Use this time at home – when people are more easily contactable and receptive to new opportunities – to your advantage. Ultimately, this will lead to helping more people in turn get back on their feet once we come out the other side of lockdown – and they’ll remember the strong organizations they could depend on when they were at their lowest.

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