Business without borders
As more UK firms consider trading and expanding overseas, it’s crucial that they put proper plans in place to make sure they truly make a success of going global.
With the UK Budget on Wednesday, all eyes will be looking to see if the Chancellor, George Osborne, announces any further measures to incentivise British firms to tap into overseas markets.
It comes as a new study from Jelf International, an insurance company, shows more UK firms are eyeing expansion plans.
- Some 46% of firms expect their employees to embark on more travel in 2014 than in the previous 12 months, with a view to expanding or trading overseas
- Europe (56%) is the most popular destination for overseas trips, followed by North America (41%) – with both regions seen as offering significant growth opportunities
- But other regions – China, the Middle East and Brazil – are also on companies’ radars
Benefits of going global
The internet has led to a huge rise in the number of firms of all shapes and sizes selling products in different countries around the world. And many larger firms with greater resources are setting up physical offices and stores in new markets.
The ability to set up shop relatively easily and cheaply online means companies have a whole new audience to market and sell to.
- You have access to more customers – which means more revenue and profit
- You can recruit new staff, meaning a greater pool of talent – so you can innovate and develop new products
- You grow your company organically
Managing your risks and meeting your challenges
A poorly executed expansion initiative can mean:
- You struggle to attract customers, often because of ineffective marketing and poor translation or lack of cultural adaptation
- You have problems getting company-wide support, due to poor communication of plans to staff
- You find yourself mired in red tape and regulation, because you haven’t done enough research
Here’s some ideas for meeting the above three challenges.
1. Struggling to attract customers
As you will know, consumer relationships are all about communication. But if you fail to communicate effectively, you won’t get people coming to your website and buying products.
- Developing a comprehensive content strategy to underpin your marketing projects
- Working with a professional translation company to ensure your website content is accurate and published in the language of the customers you are trying to attract
- Conducting market research to determine information about your new target audience
2. Problems getting company-wide engagement
Support from everyone in your business is crucial to the success of any expansion plan. If your people aren’t engaged, it simply won’t work.
- Appointing an ‘expansion champion’ to lead the project
- Consider offering job swaps in your new offices
- Run roadshows and training days to communicate the new
3. Bogged down in rules and regs
There are a whole host of things to consider when launching into a new market, with tax requirements, health and safety regulation and intellectual property rights to name just a few.
Doug Rice from Jelf said: “With the potential of high reward also comes a risk for small business — that is of not fully understanding the country in which they’ll be operating.
“Even if a company has done business in a particular area before, the rules overseas can change rapidly.”
- Conducting thorough research on your new region
- Speaking to other companies already present in your target market about their experiences
- Buying an established company in your target market as a quicker ‘way in’