Want to enter the UK business market but not sure how? Here’s what you need to know

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16/10/2019

The UK business market presents a tempting trading opportunity for many an organisation. So how can your business enter the market successfully?

Setting the scene

The UK business market is the highest net exporter of financial services. thecityuk.com reported that it generated an industry trade surplus of £68bn ($88bn) in 2017, nearly equal to the next three leading net exporting countries combined. When related professional services, such as legal, accounting and business advice are added, the UK’s combined financial and related professional services trade surplus was around £83bn ($107bn).

The current strength, as well as the history of London as a financial centre, rest on key points of infrastructure and circumstance. The convenient time zones, favourable regulations, an unrivalled business environment and an internationally competitive tax rate for developing firms are all a case in point.  Equally, corporation tax is amongst the lowest in the G20 at 20%, which is further reduced by up to 100% for work related to R&D. Tax on patents is also just 10%. Furthermore, the UK  ranks number one in the world in terms of ease of getting credit, and the gateway opportunity into other markets that being a British company provides is also seen as a huge incentive.

To that end, the likes of AmazonAppleGoogle and Facebook have all bought new headquarters to London in recent years. Amazon’s Principal Place brings its number of staff in the UK to 5,000 across three offices. Apple invested £9 billion in a spectacular new London HQ at Battersea Power Station. Google continues to take up more London office space to make sure there is enough immediate room to grow ahead of its major new £1 billion Kings Cross HQ opening. And Facebook is set to open a new engineering office in Soho, creating 500 new jobs in the process.

The challenges for businesses entering the UK business market

Nothing worth doing was ever entirely easy, and that goes for competing in the UK business market as well. There’s a reason the UK has been competing with countries many times its own size. The result is a highly competitive landscape and the UK government remains focused on ensuring government rules and regulations do not get in the way.

A key challenge that companies find entering any new market, are stereotypes and misperceptions held by the local customers – in short, trust.  It is perceived easier to deal with a local firm than a foreign firm due to cultural familiarity, security in the knowledge that the local firm understands local business practices, and questions over a foreign firm’s long term commitment to a new market.  Even when Canadian firms enter the US market and vice versa or US firms enter the UK market, similar concerns are held. When the new entrant comes from a country with a different language and culture, the concerns increase even further, irrespective of the actual competitive advantages the new market entrant holds.

As such, it is critical to manage the reputation as well as the digital and physical presentation of any foreign firm with strategic care in order to address or minimise any potential barriers due to a cultural misunderstanding. Even if you have a product or service that you know is wanted, needed and exemplary, managing its presentation without understanding the nuances of the UK can prove a barrier to even the most successful organisations. That extends as far as personal presentation in meetings, where it’s important to be unquestionably ‘polished’ so that the target customer will focus on the solution being provided and not be distracted by any inherent stereotypes.

How can you enter the UK market successfully

The good news is that there are things new market entrants can do to successful navigate the UK market and that’s where the gigCMO team, who have experience across a variety of industries from financial and professional services, heavy industry, packaged goods, education and the arts can really help.

Of course, any new market requires a strategic approach. That means ensuring your strategy is aligned with the UK market – understanding the customer and communicating with them in a way that’s designed to ensure your sale funnel is driving revenue.

Essential to this is a UK Market Sales Readiness Audit. Our full audit covers three critical areas including sales pitch, company and brand story, digital and physical presence followed with detailed and actionable reports. Working closely with you to prepare a message and pitch that we ourselves stand by, we also share our many networking opportunities, making introductions to potential clients and giving you access to a community of people, many of whom we have trusted, long term relationships, and who trust our opinion and perspective.

Bottom line driven and business focused, the international team has experienced business culture and processes around the world, and understand the challenges that you face. This may be support you choose to engage for the very short term, or at key junctures over the early years of your business’s entry into the UK market. It doesn’t replace your team, but helps identify the key areas in which it can be used to make your transition into the UK seamless and effective.