Five Lessons Australian Female Founders Learned About Expanding into the USA

When you’re the founder of a growing business, there’s no shortage of experts and gurus who are willing to share their insight and perspective of how you can succeed. But often, one of the best ways to learn is through those who are in the same boat as you.

An inspiring group of founders recently wrapped up our latest 90-day program, which included one-on-one assessments and strategy development, Sydney-based workshops with Tyro Fintech Hub and the NYC Immersion Program, designed in partnership with Lab 1492. The program brings founders right to the heart of New York City to gain unique on-the-ground training and to build the connections necessary to launch into the US quickly and successfully.

This most recent program was designed specifically for female founders and diverse businesses – and they couldn’t wait to share what they learned. So, we’ve rounded up a few key insights from their experience.

Here are five things our founders learned after working in the US with our NYC Immersion program.

  1. Be open to new business models

Given the size and maturity of the US market, there may be new business models and partnership opportunities you haven’t even thought of yet. With proper planning and the right connections, however, you can make the most of all the US has to offer and accelerate your expansion.

As a fashion product business, we were excited to learn about the variety of selling avenues available to us in US compared to Australia. It was something we didn’t realise before going to NYC and it was only after meeting with retail experts that were able to identify new ways to better sell our products,” said Stacey Fisher, Minnow Designs.

  1. Gaining experience on the ground is invaluable

Many founders have expressed how working on the ground and building relationships face-to-face in New York City proved immensely valuable for their growth plans.

“The market for our product in Australia is too small so I have to be open about going to the US early.  I recommend that founders go exploring before you think you’re ready. It’s not about being too aggressive or foolhardy but to discover the things you didn’t know you didn’t know,” said Annette McClelland of Tekuma.

“I now know it is possible for me to expand into the US, so having positive reception to my concept was great. I feel I have a path to follow and a big market in the US,” said Deborah Fairfull, Blisspot.

  1. Having a long-term presence is important

Many founders take a ‘fly in fly out’ approach to the US and this can often be their downfall. It’s important to be realistic about the size of the US market and consider how an ongoing commitment to the market looks for your business.

“Building your brand awareness in US requires a person to actually be there on the ground, whether this be yourself or a representative, so it’s best to have a plan as to how that will work for you,” said Cherry-Nguyen, Minnow Designs.

  1. Don’t try to go it alone

Many Australian founders as well as experienced business experts, mentors and advisors might think they fully understand the US market. But it is important that businesses seek advice from those who know the landscape intimately.

“My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you’re fully supported in your expansion and that you have on-the-ground insight from a provider like FD Global Connections. For myself and business, it was a very professional and life-enhancing experience because we had access to the right people at the right time,” added Fairfull.

  1. It will be different from Australia

While Australia and the US have similar business values and cultures, local founders say they ran into a few surprises when it comes to working in the US, particularly when it comes to understanding the country’s diversity and size.

“I wish we could have participated in this before we started to work in the US as it would have saved us a lot of time and energy in learning the ropes. The US is both similar and very different to Australia understanding the nuances right from the start that will save you from making costly decisions,” said Cherry-Nguyen.

FD Global Connections CEO Trena Blair shared more about what founders need to know about entering and selling in the US in this podcast. For more insight from founders who have participated in our program, you can also check out this post featuring the participants from our 2017 Fintech program.