Finpro’s creative industries program area helps Finnish lifestyle and entertainment brands explore sales opportunities in international consumer markets.
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7 success factors in internationalizing creativity
Look beyond the horizon

Every company needs a vision. Your vision is an inspiring statement of what your company intends to become and achieve at some point in the future. We are sometimes so busy in implementing ongoing projects and making this year's budget that we do not have time or energy to think what kind of future we want to create. However, without a clear vision, effective business planning is impossible. If you do not know the destination, how do you know which way to take?

Clear on goals, flexible on means

In creative industries one of the main questions is entrepreneur needs to ask himself is: Do I want this to become a succesful business or do I only want to pursue my artistic dream? These two alternatives are not necessarily in contradiction with each other, but developing a sound business requires business-based goals and decisions. And if being a business person is not your personal goal, but you want to seriously develop and grow your business, find a business partner to your team.

You need to decide what kind of customers and projects you are after. Are they the ones that add to your knowledge base, get you good references, bring in maximum profitability or are fun to work with?

Succesful companies focus on what they are good at, and they listen with a very sharp ear what their customers have to say – already in the concept development phase. It is impossible to focus on everything, especially when you get out from Finland to bigger markets. The maturity of any strategy can be seen in the ability to let things out and to focus, not in the capacity add everything in. Listen to your customers to narrow your focus.

Commitment turns dreams into reality

Due to a small home market, Finnish creative companies need to start their internationalization early on, some of them even at the moment they are founded. Global opportunities seem very lucrative, but commercial success needs a lot of work.Developing a succesful business on international markets requires both human and financial resources. There is no gain without pain. Time and money are needed to understand how markets work, to evaluate the real potential of your offering and to find reliable partners. The owners and management need to be committed to the long term work and investments.

Be global

The key to international success lies in "think global, act local." Even in the age of Internet and social media, purely global solutions rarely have immediate success. You need to understand the value networks, customer behaviour, competitive situation and partnering opportunities of your target markets. Language and cultural aspects may require localisation.

Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast

Be agile in your solution and business development. Test your ideas at early stage to see what feedback they receive. Be prepared to fail and then get up again, adjust what is needed and test again. Companies that can flexibly adapt their offering and business model to meet the changing industry environment will be the ones which have the best opportunities to be long-term winners. Industry foresight is needed to identify those changes in time.

Excel rules

There is no business without figures. This applies to creative industries as well, even though the idea of trying to plan and follow cash flows or profitablilty may seem scary or a waste of time. You need to understand your costs and income and how your artistic and business decisions are affecting them.

The long march

Be prepared for a long march. Establishing a business on international markets takes time, and results cannot be expected overnight. Sales cycles are always longer than you anticipated and break even points to more to achieve than you wished for. However, internationalisation is an inspiring journey. Enjoy the journey and bon voyage!