GrowthAccelerator was busy in Yorkshire in February working with the Manufacturing Advisory Service and UK Trade and Investment on three events in Rotherham, Leeds and Hull. The panellists and contributors all came out with some really useful gems of wisdom for businesses trading internationally.
- Get yourself out there, but start somewhere simple. It can be daunting enough going to somewhere with a different language and time-zone.
- Make your own luck, seize opportunities as and when they present themselves. Therefore, be flexible – don’t suppose that just because your product is successful in the UK, that it will work internationally, indeed, some innovative customers might have alternative uses for your product that you haven’t considered.
- Get representation – it may be an agent, it may be a subsidiary and it may be a distributor, but having someone on the ground in a country is so important once you have customers.
- Get paid – trade credit insurance and banking support are pretty much essential for working overseas. UKTI have a range of support tools for contacts in individual countries, and it’s good sense to choose a bank with a strong local presence.
- Use the embassy staff – they are there to help Brits abroad – and they work very hard at opening doors for you. They will even host a reception if you ask them!
- Be open minded, your product may be used in different applications overseas – go and find how that works and prepare to be adaptable.
- Make sure you have versions of your sales collateral and your website in foreign languages.
- Understand the size of the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, but also look too at opportunities in the next tier of emerging economies – South Korea and Malaysia are open and dynamic economies, but so too are the VITAMIN countries – Vietnam, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico, Indonesia and Nigeria.
- Understand what it is about Britain that overseas businesses like – honesty and transparency. They like the open and decent British approach and the fact we have a Bribery Act is a positive sign that the UK takes corruption seriously.
- Carry your passport with you at all times – and be prepared to jump on a plane if you get the opportunity.
The above were all genuine first person anecdotes and quotes from one or more of the following: Chris Greenwood, Tan Delta Systems; Viv Parry, Exquisite Handmade Cakes; Mike Maddock, PES Performance; Carol Bains, Harpar; Peter Hoy, Macalloy; Dave Nickless, Cutting & Wear; James Acton, The Brand Nursery.