Let me just throw out a few thoughts in SaaS. Because even if you do nothing, unless your product has some sort of regulatory or other limitations … you’ll end up organically getting at least 15% of your revenues from outside of the U.S. without even trying.
So, I think the biggest pitfalls are not investing in that ~15%. Not nurturing it, growing it, supporting it:
- Waiting too long to put boots on the ground. As soon as you have even $100k in U.K. revenue in particular, I’d at least have a head of customer success, and maybe a GM, in London or similar to support those customers. That can Tube over to visit the customers. That can show up at events. That can be your face and presence.
- Waiting too long to localize your app. Most folks start off English only and then it becomes a big headache to localize the app in core languages. This almost always pays off. Do it as soon as you have any pull in non-English countries.
- Putting a non-closer in a quota-carrying role running an overseas office. I see this a lot. You’re not ready to hire a whole team in another geo. So you start with a generalist (that’s OK) to sort of manage sales AND customer success AND support AND some marketing. It’s a suboptimal hack but much better than no one there (see point 1). But — if you expect a non-closer, a non-sales person … to hold a sales quota … that always fails.
Bottom line — go int’l as early as you can. At least, if you have a sales-driven business (though really, no matter what). With people, not just software.