Businesses are ready to branch into new markets once they are well established and flourishing in their home market. The main key to succeed in a new market is ensuring you have a disciplined, well-planned out approach by investing a lot into a complete market analysis. At Blueface, we love to see Irish brands succeed in new markets. However, there are various factors that every business owner should consider before taking the plunge.
1. Choose the right country: Not every country is suitable for your business segment. Studying the country’s GDP and trade patterns gives an idea of the economic situation. The focus of the market analysis should be to derive insights on which country has the highest demand for your product and least supply for the same. Use Google Trends to verify demand in your target market.
2. Check the Cost: It’s always a good idea to check the cost of doing business in your new market. Is your new market drowned in high taxes? It is pivotal to know the amount of capital required to cover import duties, foreign taxes, shipping, insurance, overseas distribution and storage costs. All these costs need to be factored into your entry plan to derive the profit margin and develop a competitive pricing strategy. Obtain measurable benchmarks related to starting a business here.
3. Know the Social and Cultural Factors: Countries are very different from one another in terms of the religion practised, language spoken, social conduct, food and in many other ways. Also, consider if the habits of that country align with your products? As John Hooker once said “there is no better arena for observing a culture in action than business”. Doing a PESTLE analysis will help you analyse the political, economic, socio-cultural, and technological changes in your business environment.
4. Understand the market: Create buyer personas for your product. To do so – it is best you answer the following questions:
· What do my target market want? Will they be interested in your product?
· Understand the pricing for similar products in the market and study how new products are marketed in the region.
· How do the locals like to shop? Would they be motivated to purchase online or offline? If it is offline, would they prefer exhibitions, open air markets or departmental stores?
Google Trends proves useful to understand shopping behaviour of customers too.
Apart from the above, talk to other local companies that have worked there, ask them who they do business with and who they find to be reputable? Visit Trade organisations in those locations as trade shows, export related summits and trade missions can be helpful in this regard.
5. Analyse the competition: Study the current competitors in the market and analyse their value propositions, derive lessons from their successes and more importantly their failures. What gap did they not fill? How would your company fill that gap successfully? This tool proves functional in determining your market position.
6. Choosing the best business model: Examine if it is completely necessary to fully establish and register a new company, with a local physical office and hiring staff members? This is a big move especially if this is your first entry into a foreign market. There are two alternatives to this: Firstly, get an international number from Blueface that allows your local customers in that market to call your office in Ireland at no extra cost. This allows you to have a virtual office with several numbers directing to one account. Find out how we can help you enhance your international presence. Secondly, find a reliable and reputable local partner who would be willing to market your white labelled products/services and generate growth.
7. Prepare a Performance Index: Create a performance index with a certain export budget and overseas distribution etc.., maintain key dates in your export calendar, sales targets, marketing strategy for the new market, risk management, technology costs and measure the return on investment against it to know where exactly you stand. Product Profitability Analysis tool helps identify top performing products to cut unprofitable product lines.
8. Effective Partner Relationship: There are three forms of governance between new market entrants and their international partners; trust, knowledge sharing, and contract-based relationship. All of these mechanisms contribute in enhancing the new entrant’s competence to exploit local market opportunity. However, among the three, trust seems to be the most effective way to curtail distributor opportunism.
9. Know the Political and Legal Factors: The attitude of the government and the people of the host country towards foreign companies is to be considered seriously. It is best to work with local experts in understanding the laws that would govern your business in the new market. There are different factors to consider, for example taxes and import/custom duties, that need to be understood carefully. PESTEL analysis provides a bird’s eye view of the business conduct.
10. Business is a Collaborative activity: Success only comes from effective collaboration which emanates from adopting very clear and transparent business methods right from the beginning. This in turn will help garner good reputation in the new market. According to Nielsen 92% of customers believe recommendations from friends and family over other forms of advertising. Last but not the least, be ready to change your plans to adapt to the ever-changing market needs.
Ireland is currently the world’s most globalised economy. In order to continue growing, it is crucial that while penetrating into a new market, the focus is on execution and operational excellence. Therefore, it is crucial that we develop highly flexible business models that can respond to new opportunities and threats effectively.
Blueface is exhibiting at the EXIM Summit happening in Dublin on Nov 18th 2015 at the Croke Park.
Communication is one of the most fundamental skills that we develop as human beings. As social entities, the overwhelming majority of us communicate with others at least once per day, every day in many different forms.
The ability to articulate ideas and thoughts verbally and non-verbally is a wonderful thing. Admittedly though, despite the fact that we all communicate so often, some of us are better at it than others? How?
Well there are some basic points of difference that separate great communicators from the rest of us. They are:
- Leaving no doubt
- Asking for clarification
- Positivity and empathy
- Listening well
In the business world, communication permeates everything and due to this good communication is, of course, extremely important. From deciding on top level strategy, a manager giving instructions, teams working together and most importantly, the organisation’s relationship with customers, the price of bad communication is high.
Over the course of history, a lot of time has been wasted due to poor communication, there has also been many a disgruntled employee and ultimately an underperforming organisation.
So what about these principles that make up a good communicator, or an organisation that is good at communicating, that ultimately can help the performance of businesses.
1.Leave no doubt
Perception and interpretation are powerful things. Rarely will you find someone who thinks exactly the same as you. Therefore, when giving a message, good communicators are precise and clear.
Some instructions and topics can be quite confusing and complex. Breaking a message down into digestible chunks for the receiver can be a necessity. What are the most important points you need to get across? Make sure that you cover them without any ambiguity.
No doubt should be left in the mind of the receiver of the message as to what the message means. If there is scope or room for creativity or the receiver’s own ideas, then this will be outlined in the message.
Asking if the message is understood or if the receiver has any questions on it is a good practice. You can be sure then that they have the information that they need.
What if the message you had just received wasn’t precise and clear….?
2. Asking for clarification
Have you just come out of a meeting not understanding what you have been asked to do next?
In this situation some people may be hesitant to ask for more information, thinking that if they haven’t understood it is their fault.
Not necessarily, maybe the boss has not been concise or clear about what they want? The best thing to do is to ask for clarification. You should always do this if more clarification is needed. After all, if you don’t understand something, how productive or helpful are you going to be. You will save a lot more time by finding out exactly what is expected of you before you start to work on it.
One of the biggest contributors to poor communication in organisations is timing, specifically, giving people messages about something to be done near or after the deadline for it. The results of it can usually be seen in stressed employees, rushing to meet these deadlines.
This sounds fairly basic, don’t ask for something to be arranged or done after the deadline for it has passed. Are you going to ask them to come to a meeting that happened yesterday? Probably not.
However, is asking for a deliverable one day before the deadline any better? Well that depends on your message, if you just want an email forwarded, then you are probably OK. If you need a design project to be done, the likelihood is the deadline won’t be met.
When giving a message to someone, what is a suitable amount of notice time that they need? This varies from item to item but of course generally, the more notice time that you can give, the better. Perhaps planning meetings can be a good remedy for this issue, where work is scheduled and everyone involved knows the relevant deadlines for work.
4. Positivity and empathy
Attitude goes a long way, it’s nicer to interact with someone who has a sunny disposition about the topic. As humans, we are rather more receptive to a positive attitude than a negative one. Nobody can be positive all the time but providing positive reinforcement as well as including positive elements of feedback along with criticisms is a good tactic.
Empathy can be described as emotional awareness, and those who can put themselves in the shoes of those they are speaking to can anticipate and guide a conversation to a successful conclusion. Different people respond differently to the same situation.
Getting to know your co-workers and teammates and how to have fruitful conversations with them will help.
5. Listening well
We could be accused of saving the best for last. If you want to be a great communicator, you need to be a good listener. Communication, by its very nature involves at least two people.
Good communication is definitely not a one way street. Make sure that when someone is talking, you are really listening to what they are saying and taking on board their message.
Without this, how can you hope to provide them with the information they need if they are asking a question, or relay an accurate picture of the situation to the next person you talk to about it?
Promoting good communication within your business will have positive effects. Your team will know exactly what they have to do, and when it has to be done for. Not only does this help from a productivity and efficiency standpoint, but due to this the team can avoid working against impending deadlines, avoid the stress that comes with that, stop being reactive and start working proactively. That is a good position for any organisation to be in.
Improving your communication habits can be difficult. After all, those habits have probably ingrained via thousands of interactions over years. When starting off, try to be conscious in the moment of each interaction with your co-workers and remember the principles, trying to incorporate them into your communication.
Here at Blueface, it’s our mission to make business communications easier, because we believe that’s the way it should be. We’re working to provide the most innovative and reliable business landline and mobile phone solutions, [link]why not see for yourself[link].
The morning of Wednesday 30th of September saw the Growing Your Business In Europe event take place in the comfortable surrounds of Dublin Chamber of Commerce. A number of speakers, which included Blueface CEO Alan Foy, gave their insights into scaling businesses in European markets to start the morning. In addition, a party of 10 businesses from England were in attendance in order to network, build relationships, and gain insight into the Irish market.
Alan’s talk centered on a SCALING framework, 7 points to cover that will help grow your business across any international market, not just those within Europe.
S – Strategy must be formulated and aligned.
Alan suggested that you need to put a lot of time into planning and crafting your strategy before expanding abroad. He stressed how important it is to ensure all elements of your value chain of activities are aligned to this strategy to achieve maximum success.
C – Control systems & monitoring mechanisms must be in place.
The importance of having mechanisms to track progress and monitor performance, particularly in distant markets, was highlighted throughout the talk.
A – Allies and partners are international too.
Look to your existing partners and network to assist your new market entry- lawyers, accountants, suppliers, customers, business networks are all important for early traction in a new market by opening opportunities and providing the chance to establish new business relationships in that country.
L – Leverage business model from HQ.
Optimise your Irish HQ to realise the “synergistic benefits”.
I – Invest in people.
Alan emphasised that promoting people who appreciate your business culture and getting them to take responsibility is the best path to successfully scaling your business. People are the driving resource behind all businesses, but particularly so when penetrating new markets.
N – Networking is vital in new markets.
Networking that builds positive and enduring business relationships is much better than transactional one off business speed dating! Focus on the quality of the conversations you have rather than the number of business cards you can hand out. When establishing your business in a new country, be conscious and respectful of cultural differences, particularly around networking and building relationships.
G – Geographical selection & research matters.
Doing your upfront research on the market, competitors, pricing and addressable segments is THE most important aspect and overlook this step at your peril.
The networking aspect of Alan’s talk could be seen in full swing once the audience had heard from each speaker. Representatives from each of the Irish and UK based businesses in attendance mixed to share their knowledge, discuss potential opportunities and most importantly of all, begin the process of building relationships.
If you’re business is thinking of expanding into European markets, check out upcoming Dublin Chamber of Commerce events as well as what support available to your organisation from Enterprise Ireland.
Finally, remember that Blueface offers international numbers for businesses with presences in multiple countries. Find out how we can help with your international needs for your business landline and mobile phones.
The Blueface team were out in force on Saturday 26th September to support The Ireland Fund’s Global 5K: The Irish Run The World! Supporters of The Ireland Funds from 15 cities in 6 countries were taking part in a series of 5K runs over 30 hours covering 65km. Kicking off down under in Brisbane, the event then handed the ‘virtual baton’ over to other participating cities, concluding when the last runner crossed the finish line in Los Angeles.
The Dublin edition was a sunshine fest, where a large crowd of all ages enjoyed the closest we’ve come to a summer’s day since well, last summer! Monkstown Rugby Club in Sandymount was the venue where we gathered at 11.30 on Saturday morning. After the registration and t-shirt changes we limbered up, and it was clear that there were some who relished the prospect of competing for line honours and a wonderful prize sponsored by Blueface.
As usual, Blueface managed to source a few iPhones pre-release, and one shiny iPhone 6S was up for grabs for the fastest global finisher. A big incentive which certainly seemed to do the trick – there were some scintillating times set in the first lap or two, as a leading group of seemingly semi-professionals set the pace!
In the end, Brian Farrell recorded the fastest time of 18:09 while running in the New York leg of the Global 5k to win the #bluefacechallenge
Over the past few years, there has been a common perception that IP desktop phones are on the verge of dying. Yes, it’s true that landline telephony is on the decline, VoIP ‘landline’ calls are on the rise. This assumption stems from people believing that landline telephony usage is on a rapid decline owing to increased fixed mobile substitution, yet this is not the case.
Our recent Blueface ICT surveys showed that majority (67.4%) of businesses currently subscribe to or have access to, both a landline and mobile telephony service. Only 13.4% reported use of landline only, with a slightly higher 15.7% using Mobile only. It is quite evident from these figures that an all mobile business is limited in its ability to project a corporate image and therefore, landline as an element of Business Telephony will certainly remain important.
An article from Telegeography provided many interesting insights into the main scenarios behind the growth of IP Desktop phones.
Increase in VoIP based phone lines:
Statements that refer to the “death of the PSTN” actually refer to the replacement of TDM (Time-division multiplexing/ circuit switched) technology in the telecommunication network by VoIP technology. The reason behind this is mostly due to cost efficient programs rather than a new service development.
- The study also suggests that the decline of phone lines is limited to 1.3% per year CAGR since 2008 – the year when the total number of wired phones lines peaked with 1.29 billion subscribers.
- It is interesting to note that even though switched telephone lines have declined at a compound rate of 4% every year, VOIP consumers have increased by a whopping 18% annually, enabling to neutralize the decline in switched phone lines.
Decline in Residential Landline voice:
Over the last few years, residential landline voice traffic has decreased rapidly owing to an increase in mobile and VoIP to VoIP calling. However, this has not affected the number of phone lines which remains more or less stable. According to Ofcom’s recent Communications Market Report, the number of fixed outgoing phone calls from residential phone lines has decreased with an 8.2% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) over the last five years.
With all the positive trending for IP desktop phones, there is no ignoring the fact that there is much more for the next generation to look forward to. Some of the major developments that would take over telephone communications are:
- Software based Communications
- IP Media Phones
- Hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange)
In our recent ICT survey, a high number of respondents (70.9%) said to be using computer-based telephony software (i.e. Skype, Google Talk, X-lite) for business purposes. This is a reflection of the growing expectations and demands on businesses IP connection. While it has not yet been used as a major mode of telecommunication by businesses, it is definitely gaining ground in the fiercely competitive telecoms industry.
Another area of major growth in the IP phone space is the IP Media Phones. According to Frost & Sullivan, IP media phones are advanced IP desktop phones which have large displays with either integrated or plugged cameras to enable video communication, as well as support advanced telephony,Unified Communication (UC) features and integrated business applications. The IP media phone market shipped around 1.5 million devices in 2014 and this number is expected to quadruple in the next seven years. The main drivers behind moving to IP media phones are reduced costs and the need to switch to UC-enables devices.
With the cost of setting up a PBX system (telephone system within a company or institution that switches calls between users on local lines whilst allowing all users to share a certain number of external PSTN phone lines) being extremely expensive, many businesses are making the move towards a hosted PBX. The Hosted PBX handles voice signals using an IP connection and they carry out the same functions as a traditional PBX with many benefits such as reduced initial investment costs, increased flexibility, remote management and greater computer-technology integration. Our ICT survey revealed that 10% of respondents already used Hosted PBX, while 22% felt it would be useful for their business.
There is still a long time before we see the IP desktop phones being replaced on a large scale. Most of the major enterprise communication vendors experienced healthy growth in IP desktop phone shipments in 2014 and also invested in new ones including media phones, SIP phones, Microsoft-optimized/qualified devices and lower-end IP desktop phones.
To sum up, IP phones are not dead by any kind of measure and are here to stay with various offerings in terms of shapes, prices, integration and multimodal communications.
Join Blueface and the Ireland Funds on Saturday, September 26, 2015 in Monkstown Rugby Club, Sandymount, Dublin 4 for the 2nd Annual Global 5K.
Following the global success of last year’s event, we’re delighted to be sponsoring this fun run again. The event will kick off at 11:30am with registration open from 11:00am. Blueface will give away a free iPhone 6s to the fastest time recorded globally on the day.
On September 26th, 2015, the event will span 15 different cities across 6 different countries over a 30 hour period. Kicking off down under in Brisbane, the event will hand the ‘virtual baton’ over to other participating cities concluding when the last runner crosses the finish line in Los Angeles.
Blueface is delighted to announce that we will be sponsoring the Medium SME category at The Realex Payments Web Awards 2015. The award ceremony will take place on October 15th in the beautiful surroundings of the RDS Concert Hall.
Over 600 websites have been nominated for an award across 30+ categories ranging from news and media to ecommerce and of course SMEs as well. The competition is sure to be stiff with superbly designed sites in the running for what would be a well-deserved prize. See for yourself, you can find the full list of nominees here.
The awards have been recognising outstanding website development and design for 8 years. In today’s business environment your website is perhaps the most common touchpoint that your business and brand has with customers and the The Realex Payment Web Awards 2015 represent what businesses of any scale should aspire to regarding their own online presence.
Follow the excitement of award night on Twitter using #webawards15.
Best of luck to all nominees, we’ll see you on the night.
Two weeks ago was a glorious Friday for Blueface as it marked our annual party. This is one of the rare occasions we all manage to spend time with one another from our Dublin and Rome offices although there were still a few missing on holidays. Our day began with “Dee” the photographer who took beautiful photos of our team. We recently expanded to another floor in our IFSC building and want to give each person a profile on our reception wall.
For our personal portraits we were asked to write down our favorite quote and hold it up. It truly is amazing how much a quote can tell about someone. They ranged from, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” to the infamous Conor McGregor quote “We’re not here to take part, we’re here to takeover!“.
Once the group photos were done, we began our journey to Blackrock cookery school. As we walked out of the office, to catch a DART from Connolly station, we were blessed with a sprout of Irish weather and pounded on for ten minutes by torrential rain. A nice way to freshen up at the end of your working day!
The Dublin cookery school was stunning. We were all greeted by an amazing Apéritif (champagne and beautiful freshly made starters).
The starters were:
- Small bruschetta with pàtè and caramelized onion on top
- Black pudding sticks
- Cucumber and salmon pàtè and many more.
Once the Apéritif was finished we moved into the next room (which was hidden from the first) to begin our cookery lesson with Eric. He taught us how to make mouth-watering ravioli, a leg of pork accompanied by potatoes topped with mint sauce, and for desert a delicate chocolate soufflé, yum yum.
As the lesson finished we were divided up into teams and put to the test. Each team had to repeat exactly what Eric had just taught us. It is safe to say, we were all hilarious. The best part of our day was the last, which we did not expect. We were sat down in the final room (which was also hidden from the first three) with lovely wine to taste and told to wait. Suddenly after about a half hour we were served a three-course meal. Little did we know that it was what WE had cooked, and let me tell you something, it was delicious.
To top off our day we had a couple of drinks in The Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock. It’s not often you are blessed to work with an amazing team of people, but in Blueface I feel we definitely are!
By Victoria McAuley
Blueface was delighted to present Michael Flanagan, winner of our Web Summit Competition, with a cheque for €1,000. We caught up with Michael to learn more about his start up - Kabzy.
What is Kabzy?
Kabzy provides all vehicle owners and particularly taxi drivers with a unique vehicle security product.
Our taxi product connects any driver to a trained emergency response operator with one tap of our in-vehicle panic button. We also use a CCTV camera to keep a record of an incident, so liability in the event of an accident or incident can be clearly proven. If a taxi is hijacked or stolen, we have the capability to safely disable the vehicle in seconds and it is tracked at all times.
We also provide car owners with the ability to safely disable their vehicle from their smartphone from anywhere in the world – within seconds. With the Kabzy mobile app, you can disable your car at night and even if your keys are stolen your car is not going anywhere. With one tap of a button in the app, you can enable your car in less than 4 seconds. You can also track your vehicle at all times and set a virtual fence around your car so if it is illegally moved you are instantly notified.
What triggered you to start Kabzy?
I had been working on a taxi safety product for passengers for three years, so I was in the taxi space. From speaking to many taxi drivers it was apparent that there was a real need for a service that protects drivers, so we pivoted the business around this problem. The number of taxi hijackings are growing rapidly, so we set out to create a service that covers as many angles as possible for drivers.
When we came up with the product I demonstrated it to friends and family and there was a consistent reaction throughout every demo I did. What I kept hearing was, “I would use that in my car!”. It became apparent that this product appeals to everyone who owns a car and not just taxi drivers. Whether you are a private car owner or a fleet manager, having the ability to safely disable your vehicle and track it from your smartphone is a useful product, and as they say ‘the rest is history’.
What has the feedback been like so far?
The feedback has been amazing. When we tell taxi drivers and car owners what it can do, they are amazed. There is nothing else like this available and we believe that this is the future of vehicle security. Peoples’ reactions have been one of my main driving forces through the difficult times. Their reactions have bolstered my thoughts that we are onto something big here, so there’s no turning back now.
What difficulties have you encountered along the way?
For the taxi industry one of our biggest problems was making the product affordable to taxi drivers. We install a lot of hardware into the taxi and it doesn’t come cheap. Over the past six months we’ve worked hard to look at ways how we can reduce the upfront cost to the driver as much as we possibly can. We now offer a package where they can pay on a weekly basis.
Another difficulty I faced was convincing taxi owners that this new technology will bring value to their business. Our technology is completely new to the taxi industry, so it was difficult to persuade taxi fleet owners that this is the way forward. Thankfully in June this year we signed our first large taxi customer who are Ozone Cabs, who are based in Bluebell Business Park, D12. Ozone embrace new technology and have fitted their entire taxi fleet with Kabzy. Ozone recognised that by adding driver security to their fleet that this gave their rental company a greater competitive edge. Having a large reference customer like Ozone makes it a lot easier when we approach other Taxi companies.
What’s next in your plan for growing Kabzy?
At the moment we are sales focused. We have a great product but we now need to tell the world about it. We have just secured Enterprise Ireland funding and also private investment, so our aim now is to build a strong customer base internationally. We believe providing the owner with the ability to secure their vehicle from their smartphone is the future for vehicle security. We are currently in talks with some of the major insurance companies working on the potential for reduced vehicle premiums for having Kabzy installed.
If I wanted to put Kabzy in my car, what would it cost me?
The price is €395 which includes taxes, installation and 12 months monitoring. For this you can track your vehicle 24/7, disable it anytime, anywhere and set a virtual fence around your car all by simply pressing a button from your phone.
Do you have a particular target market outside of Ireland you’re looking to break into?
The U.K. is the obvious choice with over 36 million vehicles on the road. In May this year, I spent three weeks in London knocking on doors and getting feedback on our product. The response was fantastic and I learnt so much about the taxi market, but also the private car and fleet market too. Over the next 12 months I’ve set ourselves a target of entering the UK market and we plan to achieve this through strategic partnerships with a number of talks already underway. There are exciting times ahead.