Make your millions in international markets

27th November 2017

Published in: Your Business with James Caan
Autumn 2017

Do you want to reach the 99% of consumers not living in the UK? Discover how Core Business Solutions has helped businesses internationalise successfully and profitably.

It’s the responsibility of any entrepreneur to seek the broadest opportunity for what they have to offer. It takes a great deal of effort to develop and launch a product in local markets, so with all that hard work done, surely it makes sense to extend the reach of your business to international markets.

Ask yourself why you set up in the UK. The straightforward answer is likely to be that it’s because that’s where you live, not because the UK offers the strongest opportunities. International growth is a choice and all choices have consequences. But to do nothing is also a choice and may represent an opportunity for your competitors. If you’re not growing, you’re going backwards.

Where do I start?

At the end. Think about how your business will look in five to 10 years’ time and plot a path to there. Your internationalisation strategy needs to be at the core of your vision for the business as a whole, not a standalone venture. You’re setting the foundations for your future business success.

Don’t be put off by the apparent complexity of international markets. You’ll find more that is familiar about doing business internationally than not. There will be challenges along the way, but that’s true of any expansion; opportunity and uncertainty go hand in hand.

Think of Brexit the same way. The UK does most of its export business outside the EU. The Middle East, for example, has huge investment plans for the next 20-30 years and remains a huge opportunity. British products are highly regarded and sought after around the world and Brexit doesn’t change that.

What comes next?

A major mind-shift! The greatest challenge for business leaders embarking on internationalisation is to think differently – as the head of a future global business under construction. The role of the CEO is to provide strategic direction to the business, coaching and inspiring others to understand and buy into the vision. This requires some ceding of control. Don’t be surprised if you need help with this!

From this point, your success will be increasingly determined by the strength of your relationships. Internally, you’ll need to rely on others to a greater extent, so build a supportive and motivated team. Externally, recognise that succeeding in international markets requires a different approach than direct sales made in a local market. You’ll almost certainly be working with partners of one type or another, such as agents, distributors, joint venture partners and licencees.

Time to reach out

You need to consider how to identify and reach those individuals and companies that can help you open up new markets. There is an element of market research required. The internet makes this easier than it once was, but opportunities still need qualifying and the dynamics of the target marketplace still need to be fully appreciated. If you’re able to tap into an existing trusted network, so much the better.

You’ll no longer be face-to-face with prospective customers and your marketing and reward structures need to address this. It’s crucial to put yourself in your partners’ shoes. They want to be clear about what’s in it for them. Your sales success will be matched by their motivation to sell, so show them the money!

The great news is that once designed, the same programme – perhaps with some modest tweaking – can be used in all target markets.

Remember your vision

Once you’ve started to internationalise, keep checking your original vision. Are the assumptions you made still valid? Are you on track? What needs updating? And, more than anything else, how long do you wish to be attached to the business? Good succession or exit planning will yield rewards.

The more you can address uncertainties and demonstrate future opportunities, the higher the value of your business to any potential purchaser. Keep a record of your successes and what you’ve learnt from your failures – it shows dedication and determination to take action.

If you can demonstrate the ongoing success of your internationalisation programme, you don’t have to complete all the work yourself. Allow others to see that your business model works and that you can back up your forward projections. Demonstrate your relevance to the 99% of consumers not living in the UK and get full credit for your future international growth in the value of your business.

“Exports have been fundamental to our growth. We’re now exporting 60-65% of our output and expect this to climb to 80% within the next five years” – light engineering sector customer.

How we can help

Core Business Solutions helps companies with innovative products to profitably realise their true potential in international markets. Our highly experienced team of professionals has undertaken such assignments many times over, both for their own businesses and on behalf of others. Take a few minutes to explain your company and its ambitions in international markets to us, and we’ll show you how you can profitably monetise your opportunity.

For further information, call John Holmes on 07983 391452.