This is often one of the first questions from kiwi entrepreneurs, and it’s an interesting one.
Firstly, of entrepreneurs as a class the ones we often look up to don’t have to deal with this challenge. The challenge of conquering a market other than the one you grew up in.
Elon Musk – smashed it, in America.
Richard Branson, dominated for 20 years in the UK (now global).
Kiwi entrepreneurs have to crack that from very early on and come from a smaller market. The american mindset is any market outside of the US is smaller than home base, kiwis are the opposite every market outside is bigger – it is highly unlikely going to another market will have less opportunity. The challenges of this process are numerous:
1) Everything is different.
2) Different taxation, business law.
3) Cultural differences (even in English speaking countries)
And underpinning that is building a new network, brand, reputation, all of which takes time, at least 4-5 years in my experience. Why that long? It just takes that long to establish any business.
Thus, as a kiwi entrepreneur you’re always conscious that you do have to get in to different markets which is an additional challenge. On top of carving a business out of nothing.
But back to, why not Australia?
It’s often the first port of call, the idea is to not stretch yourself too thin and closer to home. In reality what I find is that people take it less seriously. They think send over one guy, the thinking is ‘we can fly over if need be’ have a meeting or two, and then if they hit a rocky road they just stay in NZ more.
If you’re going to take it seriously, you need to commit, setting it up so it’s safe to return home is almost preparing it for failure before you’ve started.
I’m all for caution but if you’d done your diligence and know you can make it a success don’t dilly dally around!
Whilst setting up hasn’t been easy, if we were close to home I’m sure someone would have decided to call it quits by now. It is hard. It should be for all the reasons above. However if you want to commit, do it properly.
Going further afield makes the organisation take the change more seriously and treats it as such.
Having a co-founder step out of day to day is quite a process, we worked with the team to find out what intangibles I provided, then sought to cover those through a more balanced leadership team (and in turn balancing the personalities of the team).
All of which I’m not sure we would have done was I just popping across the ditch.