Skip to main content

Expanding your startup into global markets is an exciting venture, but it’s essential to ensure that the timing is right and that you’re fully prepared for the challenges that come with international growth. In a recent episode of The Finance Cafe, Shauna sits down with Kayla Isabelle, Chief Executive Officer at Startup Canada, the gateway to Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, to discuss the top 5 indicators your startup is ready to go global. Startup Canada’s mission is to connect Canada’s entrepreneurs with the tools, community, and support they need to start and build their businesses. They discuss what it means to go ‘global,’ what you should have in place in your business before looking to export, and key areas to assess if your company is ready to go global. 


What is Exporting?


Exporting is a vital avenue for both goods and services, as emphasized by the Trade Commissioner Service. Canada’s historical role as a trading nation is reflected in exports and imports contributing significantly to the country’s GDP. The merits of exporting are multifaceted: it drives increased sales by expanding markets and capitalizing on global demand, leading to higher profits when domestic costs are covered. Exporting enables economies of scale, minimizes vulnerability by diversifying into international markets, and fosters new knowledge and experience through exposure to global ideas and marketing techniques. This international experience not only bolsters global competitiveness but also fortifies domestic competitiveness, safeguarding against potential foreign competition in Canada.


About Kayla


Before diving into the top five indicators that your startup is ready to go global, let’s get to know Kayla a bit better. She’s not only an advocate for entrepreneurship but also comes from a family of entrepreneurs, making her intrapreneurial at heart. Her dedication to supporting the ventures of others, especially in Canada, is truly inspiring.

Kayla’s impressive background includes recognition as the 2023 Globe and Mail Changemaker, a finalist for Business Women of the Year in 2023, and being named in the 2022 Top 40 under 40 by the Ottawa Business Journal. Her expertise promises valuable insights for our discussion.


Now, let’s delve into the core topic – indicators that your startup is ready to go global. These indicators are crucial for entrepreneurs who aspire to expand their businesses internationally:


  1. Will You Be Able to Keep Up with Growing Demand?

One of the most compelling signs that your startup is ready to go global is a demonstrated demand and a growing customer base for your product or service. However, it’s crucial to assess whether your team, infrastructure, and operational processes can handle the expansion. Can your staff meet the increasing demands as sales grow, and operations expand? Ensuring scalability is essential to avoid overwhelming your resources.


  1. Are You Prepared for Legal and Financial Implications?

Expanding internationally involves financial risks, so it’s vital to have a clear understanding of the financial implications of your global strategy. Do you have the capital and resources required to support international investments and sustain growth? Additionally, you’ll need trusted advisors and legal experts who can guide you through the complex legal landscape of exporting and international business transactions.


  1. Can You Compete in International Markets?

If you’ve already saturated the Canadian market or notice a decline in interest locally, it may be time to explore international markets. Start by conducting thorough market research to identify regions where your product or service is more relevant and in demand. Whether you choose to establish an e-commerce presence from day one or work through distributors and business partners, a well-defined business plan is essential.


  1. Do You Have the Right Team in Place?

Building a strong and qualified team is critical when entering global markets. Your team members, both at home and abroad, will play pivotal roles in product development, customer acquisition, marketing, and brand building. They should also be adept at forming global research and development partnerships, participating in global programs like Startup Canada, understanding local customs and cultures, and efficiently managing operations. Having a system in place to quickly find and onboard staff and management for international operations is equally important.


  1. Do You Have the Right Tools and Support?

Canada offers a wealth of resources to assist entrepreneurs in understanding the complexities and opportunities of building a global strategy. These resources include organizations like Startup Canada, Export Development Canada (EDC), MaRS Discovery District, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), and the Forum for International Trade Training (FITT), among others. Utilizing these resources can provide you with invaluable tools, guides, and support to navigate the exporting ecosystem successfully.


“There is a lot of risk when you’re going into new markets, so are you truly prepared with a legal partner, understand the financial implications of going global, and have a concrete strategy that you are going to follow?”Kayla Isabelle, Chief Executive Officer at Startup Canada


In conclusion, taking your startup global can be a rewarding endeavor, but it requires careful planning, resources, and a strong team. By considering these five key indicators and leveraging the support available through various Canadian organizations and programs, you can position your startup for international success and growth. Remember that thorough preparation and strategic decision-making are your best allies when embarking on the path to global expansion.

Listen To The Full Episode Now
The Finance Cafe