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Applying some Socrates to companies' US expansion plans

3 Nov 2017

Priscila Bala of Octopus Ventures explains that for companies wanting to grab a slice of the American pie, timing is everything.

The most famous of all philosophers wasn’t into preaching. Socrates just asked disarmingly, devastatingly simple questions. (They killed him in the end, but that’s another story). Applying just a bit of his technique to your preconceptions, hopes and plans for US expansion could save you months of work and possibly even your business.

The US is a massive market and requires a commensurate amount of dedication, resources and time. In some cases, the cost will be too high, or the timing won’t be right; in others, the rational choice will be to accelerate the US expansion. Ultimately, we’d like to help you arrive at the strategy that is right for your business.

If you’re looking for simple encouragement, this won’t be the guide for you. International expansion adds a significant amount of complexity and risk to any business, and there are no single right answers. We’ve seen companies succeed (and fail) by being fast or slow, first or late, big or small.

Planning is everything

That’s not to say there are no patterns to success. While we’re not offering you silver bullets, there is a lot you can do. Successful US expansion cases were extensively planned; failures succumbed to a sense of ‘inevitability’ and rushed to market entry without robust validation.

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The framework of this document is not intended to be exhaustive; rather it is a starting point to drive and focus your discussion and help you interrogate your US ambition: Could the land of the free cost you the earth? If the risk is too high, slow down and focus at home. If the strategy is sound, and the time is right, we’ll help you take the US by storm.

For more business insight and advice for entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic, follow Octopus Ventures on Medium.

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