Where are you going to expand to?

Expanding your business overseas is a big step. Hannah Godfrey, who has done it, shares the questions you need to ask yourself before you make the leap.

Last month we staged our 5th Sales Confidence live event at GoCardless HQ London. We had 100 SaaS enthusiasts watching two sales leaders, a consultant and a coach sharing their secrets. Even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you through our articles.

Our first speaker was Hannah Godfrey. Hannah is an experienced sales leader, turned startup advisor at Winning By Design. With previous companies, Hannah got to work in Sao Paulo, New York and San Francisco. Now, at Sales Confidence, she shared with us three questions you need to ask before you expand your startup abroad. You can find an article about Hannah’s first question, ‘Why do you want to expand internationally?’ right here.

Question 2 — Where?

‘Where do you want to go?’

‘With my previous company Brandwatch, we decided we needed an office in San Francisco. So we went. The office costs in San Francisco are the highest in the world. Personally, the rent in San Francisco, wow. I was looking at $3500 a month for a studio apartment! Rent, office space and talent are the most expensive in the world.’

‘We decided to ship a few developers over from the UK office to help us set up. We found that what you pay a developer in Brighton compared to Silicon Valley is very different!’

‘We found it very hard to keep our UK developers working for us, and not going to work for anyone else in Silicon Valley. Sales was the same. It was really tough!’


Hannah illustrated the age-old problem when you expand your business overseas. Wherever you go, it’s different!

Hannah found setting up in the most expensive city in the world, and the place where developers are most sought-after, pretty tough.

There are other challenges you may need to face too. You need to take into account possible language and cultural differences, differences in the marketplace and business regulations, legal issues and more.

Not everything works everywhere.

How to choose

So, how do you decide where is the best place to go with your business?

Hannah advised us to follow the business. If you’re in an industry with a particular place as a hotspot, it’s best to go there.

‘Go where your business is. Where are your clients? If you’re in ad tech, selling into advertising agencies, you need to be in New York. If you’re in entertainment and media, probably LA.’

As in most things, you’ll have more success the better you prepare. Know what challenges to expect when you expand, you’ll have more chance of overcoming them.

How about you?

Over to you now. Have you been involved in a company expansion abroad? How did you decide where to go? What challenges did you face? Let us know in the comments below.

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