Expanding your business beyond the boundaries of Northern Ireland can seem like a daunting prospect.
As a nation, we’re quick to downplay our abilities and aspirations for fear of seeming arrogant or ignorant. However, according to Invest NI, Northern Irish businesses are backed by access to world-class universities, a first-place ranking in the UK for access to full-fibre broadband, and the knowledge that multiple sectors in the country contribute to the production of globally sought after products like computers and aircraft seats. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be confident in our abilities.
3EN was founded in 2011 around a family team of three. We worked hard to establish ourselves as a trusted Oracle NetSuite partner and very quickly outgrew our living room office space, prompting us to move into a permanent office just off Holywood High Street in 2014. The business has grown year-on-year since then to become an international 60-stong company with offices in Northern Ireland, London and Bonn and full-time remote team members based all over the UK and Germany.
As the most certified Oracle NetSuite Partner in Europe, we’ve worked on over 200 projects across 53 countries and four languages since 3EN’s inception. At one stage, we didn’t believe that such accomplishments would be possible, but our success is proof that with a great team and the provision of the right resources, any Northern Irish business can become an international leader in their field.
Here are my top three tips for businesses hoping to expand beyond Northern Ireland’s shores.
1) Lead with transparency
If you’re a business leader, then you it’s your responsibility to offer direction and support to your staff. The reality is that without them, you have no business. These same staff members are those who will, with the right encouragement, go above and beyond to see success in their workplace, and with it draw in international clients and attract talent from all over the world.
That’s why it’s so important to make your expectations, hopes and dreams for the business clear from the outset, and continually reinforce the passion and drive you see in your team. Good leadership makes other people feel like they can make valuable and respected inputs, which will bolster confidence within a team and take their capabilities to new levels.
Leading with transparency from the top also encourages leadership amongst the team itself, as members feel empowered to share ideas and advise on better working practices.
At 3EN, we prioritise people. Our focus from the beginning has been to cultivate a strong culture that rewards positive attitudes and behaviour. We’ve recently added respect to our list of core values, to build an even stronger foundation for our team growth.
This human-centric focus ensures that communication at 3EN always comes from a place of affirmation. Whether it’s constructive criticism for career progression, or praise about a project that’s gone particularly well, all our internal communication stems from the desire to drive collaboration and encourage growth.
If you can see communication as a way to collaborate, your business will get a lot more done. We, for instance, occasionally employ the method of doubling up and doubling down on projects – setting two staff members the same task to achieve greater results whilst offering a safety net of companionship. From this, we witness a rise in productivity from the team as creativity flows and drives innovation and motivation. If you want to expand your business, then you must see collaborative communication as a key driver.
3) Empower your team with the tools to succeed
As CEO of a cloud computing company, it’s perhaps stating the obvious to say that I’m confident that through utilisation of the power of the cloud, businesses can approach any task with scalable, flexible and credible solutions. Businesses simply cannot grow without the right infrastructure in place to facilitate expansion.
Not only do businesses need the right tools to expand, but these tools will also encourage a team to drive its growth. A unified team is best enabled by the provision of a unified body of products.
Transparent leadership practices are upheld by simple, efficient tools that are visible and accessible to all within the business.
We’ve made it a priority at 3EN to take away blockers to our team’s motivation and ensure they can complete projects with as little disruption as possible, meaning that they get more done in less time. Our collaborative communication strategy is strengthened tenfold by the Oracle NetSuite technology we use to connect teammates living oceans apart and enable the completion of projects.
Whether it’s cloud computing technology that will scale your business beyond Northern Ireland, or if it’s app building software, video conferencing platforms or general productivity tools, business leaders must empower their teams with technology to ensure that, when the time comes, the company can take on international team members with ease, impress clients in different time zones, or even, perhaps, change the world.