UK: Going Global - Two Perspectives On How To Take Your Business Beyond The Eurozone

Last Updated: 1 November 2012

By Steve Gilroy Vistage International (UK) Ltd and Emma Jones founder of Enterprise Nation

Steve Gilroy explores potential opportunities in the BRICS.

The current uncertainty in the eurozone, combined with lack of bank lending and low consumer confidence in our home market, is challenging many UK businesses. Over 50% of UK exports currently go to European countries, so if the eurozone is in crisis, our ability to continue exporting to these countries is at risk. And yet while most of UK business is focused on a Europe in crisis, there are some world markets that are still growing healthily, with significant demand for new products and services.

Missed opportunities

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) markets are predicted to grow by an average 6.3% between 2010-2015 (source: CBI). So why isn't UK business more focused on these growth markets? Some believe that UK entrepreneurs have settled for the easiest option – selling to their home market or their closest neighbours rather than exporting. Many would argue that this is just common sense. However, it means that export opportunities in growth markets are being left for those who are bold enough to take the risk.

The challenges we now face are forcing us to look at our businesses and come up with new ways of selling and delivering. We have to look at these new markets urgently.

Who dares wins

Natural demographic growth in the BRICS countries provides a range of opportunities, with some very obvious 'hotspots'.

  • Growing household wealth and rising living standards are generating a surge in demand for financial services.
  • China is already the largest automotive market in the world, but opportunities also span Asia and the whole of Latin America. Makers of UK car components could become a part of the global supply chain.
  • Asians are passionate about education and already finance private provision in all age groups. UK education and training providers can tap into this long-term annuity opportunity by establishing links and partnerships.
  • Although many BRICS countries have import tariffs in place, there are opportunities and support for UK businesses looking to establish a local presence and manufacture locally under licence. Many local players also have significant cash sums available for investment in foreign firms and partnerships.

Next steps

The opportunities are there for those with the courage to explore and invest. Now is the time to step outside the comfort zone of our home markets and to go global.

Emma Jones shares her insights into how business owners can capitalise on opportunities to go global.

Research carried out this year points to the creation of record numbers of new businesses and significant optimism among small business owners. This confidence is being converted into international trade as young startup businesses embrace social media and global sales platforms to sell products and services around the world.

In a recent publication, Go Global – how to take your business to the world, 20 businesses started by young business owners were profiled. A notable 75% of them were going global in their first 12 months of trading. A sizeable opportunity is opening up with growth in markets beyond the eurozone, as increasing numbers of people buy online and demand British-made goods and services.

Making the most of this opportunity

Know your product/service

This may sound like a basic starting point, but it is important to focus on your niche. Clearly define the look/ feel and cost of your product/service so that you know exactly how to position it in new markets and where to promote it.

Look beyond the eurozone

Research and visit emerging markets to assess the potential for your business. According to HSBC Trade Forecast, published in late 2011, world trade is predicted to grow by 73% in the next 15 years, with forecasts showing that Egypt, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Brazil will be the international powerhouses driving growth.

These countries may not seem like natural trading partners for the UK, with the EU remaining the largest recipient of UK exports for reasons of culture and distance. Nevertheless, political figures recognise the need for British companies to look further afield with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, urging businesses to seek out opportunities "in huge modern cities from Bogota to Istanbul where people are hungry for the skills and services Britain is best at".

Make the most of powerful platforms

Upload products and services to international trading platforms and/or source the talent you need to serve new markets.

  • is a good place to promote yourself as a business service provider or to identify experts and professionals.
  • is the platform of choice to source from and sell to Asia.
  • is enabling thousands of artisan entrepreneurs to make fine products at home and sell them across borders.

Seek help

There has never been so much support available to help companies sell globally. Seek advice from peers with experience of international trade, from government agency UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), as well as industry experts and service providers. For example, Smith & Williamson has a global network of accountants and business advisers, Nexia International, with offices in over 100 countries.

The world awaits

There has never been a better time to go global – to embrace technology that helps source, produce, partner, promote and take payment for products, while securing support from peers and experts willing to help. So, with nothing to hold you back, go global and take your business to the world!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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