Expanding a business is always an exciting endeavor. It is also a risky proposition, one full of questions, assumptions, and unknowns. While a company may have mastered the manufacturing of a product or service, its marketing, and distribution, that mastery correlates to a particular customer profile within a specific market.
The target customer in a new market may look the same, but may think differently and have different expectations about how something is purchased or distributed. In addition, expanding into a new country brings additional challenges, such as regulations that could be different. These unknowns make the expansion a risky, lengthy and costly process.
The Georgia Tech Soft Landings Program is designed for those foreign companies looking to come to the United States to reduce the risk of expansion into a new market by maximizing a company’s use of time and resources. (Applications are now open.)
Companies take different approaches to solve this issue. They may pay a consulting firm for a market research study. This may be an in-depth study from a statistical point of view, mixed with focus groups results and surveys. While these studies can provide great information, they do not develop skills or personal connections in the entrepreneur or company. Another approach involves sending a company representative to the new target country. This learning approach provides valuable direct contact with the clients and other partners. However, these trips tend to be lone missions without a clear path. This lack of structure usually slows the process down significantly and may not result in the desired outcome.
The Soft Landings program will build capacity in the participating entrepreneurs by providing a structured and systematic approach to exploring the potential expansion to the U.S. market. The Soft Landings program will educate entrepreneurs and company representatives in legal, operational, and other important requirements for operating in the U.S. It will also provide mentorship, guidance, and accountability as participants complete their own business plans with validated assumptions about their clients, partners, and distributors.
The Soft Landings program will make introductions to potential partners and professional service for additional guidance. The content and structured approach will help the entrepreneurs and companies answer questions, validate assumptions and eliminate unknowns, thus reducing the risk of expanding into the United States.