How Startups/SMEs Can Prepare Themselves for a Volatile Market in 2023

The recent year of 2022 was one of unprecedented volatility, with runaway inflation, rising interest rates, and war-driven energy and food shortages. It is clear that 2023 will be another unpredictable year, and it is important to take steps to ensure that businesses are well-prepared to weather any potential storms. In order to do this, it is important to take the time to reflect on the successes, failures, and strategies implemented from the previous year as well as identify which areas to focus on to solidify the companies standing for this year.

To gain a better understanding of the ideal next steps to explore, it is important to take the time to reflect on the successes, failures, and the strategies implemented from the previous year. This will help identify what worked and what didn’t, and what needs to be improved upon. This also helps lead companies to consider taking some risks, embracing change, and thinking outside the box to stay ahead of the competition and remain relevant in today’s rapidly changing economic landscape.

Experts have been predicting a new economy for a few years now, and we are definitely seeing changes as the world adapts to a new era. As a recession sets in, businesses may be tempted to cut their resources in order to reduce costs. However, it is important to remember that these decisions will have long-term impacts on the success of the business. However, as shared by the now infamous memo from YCombinator, it is good to focus on “default alive” and plan how to achieve that. In today’s world, investors are looking for companies that prove they can go global. The fundamentals of these companies are important when assessing investment opportunities.

Startups and SMEs are using an ecosystem approach to navigate this growth and expansion. At Rainmaking, we have seen them work with other companies that have already expanded to the markets they’re interested in. They can join accelerators or expansion programmes that help them reach their goals. Or they can become direct clients of companies that offer global services, therefore avoiding the need to set up a legal entity in a new market, accelerating their access to new customers and growth.

Governments are also playing a big part in helping startups and SMEs grow. They may not have the same capital to leverage as private markets, but they are able to provide favourable domestic environments and by supporting the diversification of companies into new markets. Initiatives, such as those by Enterprise Singapore, are supporting thousands of startups and technology-enabled SMEs every year to expand to new markets through their Global Innovation Alliance (GIA). These programmes give companies a low-risk route to test out new markets, and provide the best possible chance of weathering the storm until private markets rebound.

Currently, we see that some companies are exploring beyond their current offerings, exploring beyond their current user base or even local market, looking for opportunities in emerging needs and trends. This can be a great way to open up new opportunities and tap into untapped market potential. By researching the needs of different communities, countries, and industries, we can gain insight into emerging trends and opportunities. Additionally, looking beyond our current markets and considering the potential for global expansion can be beneficial.

At Rainmaking, we are seeing this across the spectrum. As a ventures development firm, we work across the spectrum from idea stage to scale, supporting companies in their growth, as well as developing ventures from new ideas and opportunities. With changing markets and the pressure on spending, we have identified the importance of managing growth in a smart way, and making limited resources go as far as possible. Specifically in our market expansion programme, Rainmaking Expand, we work hands on with startups and SMEs to validate and prepare themselves for new markets and expand their global offering. Companies who have gone through the programmes have identified how to maximise their efforts in-market, navigate cultural differences and benefit from the Rainmaking network to secure and leverage potential commercial partnerships.

To ensure success in 2023, startups and SMEs should be willing to take calculated risks, embrace change, and explore out-of-the-box solutions. Reflection on the successes and failures of the previous year can help them identify what works and what doesn’t, and use this knowledge to inform their future decisions. With support from programmes such as the Global Innovation Alliance and Rainmaking Expand, startups and SMEs can pursue a low-risk growth strategy that can lead to stability and survival. Taking calculated risks and trying something new can open up a variety of opportunities. Doing so could be the difference between success and failure in the upcoming year.

This article is part of the Navigating Uncertainty Series, stay tuned for more articles and insights.

Interested in scaling your business to new markets?

Rainmaking Expand is for growth stage startups & SMEs looking to accelerate market entry into multiple locations, focusing on business development and leveraging genuine commercial opportunities. Our Rainmaking Expand framework aims to accelerate companies’ speed to market while de-risking market expansion.

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Written by
Meghan Bridges
February 3, 2023
Marketing Director, Rainmaking Expand

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