Last week Zoe Harris and I went to Going Global Live at the ExCeL, London to explore the world of export. This is a well established and recognised event attracting many businesses and organisations that are already exporting overseas, as well as newcomers to the global marketplace.
In this post I share our key takeaways from our visit. If your company is looking to expand internationally, I urge you to put 14 & 15th November 18 in your diary when Going Global returns to ExCeL London.
The event provides valuable expert insights for anyone involved in enabling their business to export or expand operations overseas. Whether you’re part of a global strategy team making key decisions about the markets you want to target; work in marketing and are looking to communicate with customers overseas; or perhaps you have an HR role and will be involved in recruitment and managing a global workforce. Whatever your involvement, with over 60 exhibitors and 80 seminars, there’s a wealth of knowledge for everyone!
Key takeaway #1 – Preparation is key
From our conversations with people already exporting or providing support and services for export businesses, the key takeaway was to always plan way ahead before launching into a new market.
Exporting can come with challenges: identifying the right markets and the cost of market entry, managing new cultures and languages, logistics, paperwork & compliance, financing and of course management time and training.
Fortunately, as evidenced by the range of exhibitors and export experts present at Going Global, plenty of support and advice is available – with everyone willing to share what they know! A good starting point is the government’s Exporting is Great website that provides resources, market insights and services to help businesses succeed in a global marketplace.
Key takeaway #2 – Spend time on the ground
Zoe and I attended a keynote session with Geoffrey de Mowbray (British Exporters Association (BExA) on How to make Britain a Great Exporting Nation! One of the points he underlined was the importance of spending time ‘on the ground’ understanding the market. While researching a market online or taking advice from 3rd parties is a good way to identify new markets, remote research misses out on travelling to the region and getting face-to-face with the people, the culture and all the factors that will impact on your business’ success. Along with being part of BExA, de Mowbray also runs a highly successful supply chain management company, Dints International Ltd. This company is a testimony to how much patience and determination it takes to establish a business in an unchartered territory, while demonstrating the true benefits of exploring international markets.
Key takeaway #3: You’re not alone
Along with service providers that can help your business break into new markets, including many of the exhibitors at Going Global, there are organisations that can help too.
- Department of International Trade (DIT) regional teams – DIT has regional teams across the UK that support SMEs in developing international sales. Details can be found here.
- British (in-country) Chambers of Commerce – British Chambers of Commerce have chambers in different countries that provide services to companies already established in their country, as well as services for those looking to export. A list of international British Chambers of Commerce is available here.
- Bilateral Business Councils – there are a number of bilateral business councils such as the UK India Business Council(UKIBC) and the UAE-UK Business Council. These also offer a range of services including market insights, practical support, networking opportunities and professional business services (trusted lawyers, accountants, tax advisors etc.).
- UK Export Finance (UKEF) – UKEF offer finance to eligible companies as well as buyers in overseas markets. They also provide insurance against the risk of not being paid or of not being able to recover the costs of fulfilling an export contract. Further details here.
- Department for International Development (DFID) – part of the work DFID does in developing countries is to help build more prosperous communities and stable economies. Many UK companies are involved in this work, building infrastructure, providing services, exporting goods etc. Click here to visit DFID’s website.
At Comtec we’ve completed many localisation projects for our clients on their path to international expansion, which were partially funded by DIT and other supporting organisations.
This matched financial support is available for both first time exporters and businesses already exporting to support a company’s export strategy. This could include translation of marketing collateral for international visits, website localisation to improve positioning in target markets, translation of product packaging, and more. There’s a great network ready to help and offer advice no matter what stage you’re at, so let’s get talking!
As you would expect, there was a big focus on Brexit at Going Global this year with a ‘Brexit Clinic’ and many people discussing the implications for their businesses. With the aid of expert partners, as well as using your internal talent (especially multilingual or local) it is clear that Brexit must not be feared, but could simply open new channels for trade and business ventures sooner than they would otherwise be tapped into.
As David Hemmings from PRA Global, another distinguished speaker at the show observed:
“Business development in international markets is different, but does not have to be difficult or risky.”
For more information about how languages and translation fit into your company’s global strategy you may find our guide Languages in International Business useful. Download it here.