Consumer SMB Trend – Shift from opportunistic exporter to strategic internationally led business

Published: 19 February 2014

Whether you are browsing the Financial Times, daily tabloids or reviewing business articles online, one constant message is hard to ignore - British businesses need to export if they are to grow and not just survive.

Indeed, many British brands with strong heritage or simply ‘a good story’ are leading the way in international growth. As consumers travel more and disposable income continues to rise in developing and emerging markets, the temptation to try something new is ignited.

But the challenges facing business’ moving from a UK customer focus to an International one are many. Which markets to sell to, understanding different cultures and buying behaviours, time zones, complex trade terms and longer trade cycles …the list is endless!

Whilst many businesses are able to address the above with the support of good legal teams, UKT&I departments and International trade fairs, one question is often left until last… who will lead this? Whether you are a privately owned business or PE backed, it is essential not to make the simple mistake of assuming that an existing experienced UK commercial team/Owner can naturally or easily transition from what is often a direct customer model to a distributor/partner model.

Many businesses are recognising that experienced export/international sales managers are a valuable investment and hence I have seen a large increase within the search assignments that we have undertaken in the last 18 months. Trust me when I say that there is clearly a war for talent here. If your business is growing internationally… so are others!

Alka Ghandi is a Consultant in the Consumer Practice at Berwick Partners

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