Expert Exporting Advice: How your business can take the first step towards global success
Fri 22nd May 2015
As UK Trade & Investment’s Export Week comes to an end, Hampshire County Council has worked with two Science Park companies to provide top tips on how businesses can take their first step towards going global.
Hampshire is continuing to produce innovative, globally-oriented companies such as SEaB Energy and Tekever - two high technology businesses based here on the University of Southampton Science Park that have experienced great success in selling to international markets. SEaB Energy designs and commercialises breakthrough product innovations which create clean energy and water from onsite organic waste and Tekever develops innovative technologies for the enterprise, aerospace, defence and security markets, including unmanned vehicles.
Here is their advice for businesses looking to export for the first time:
First Things First
Sandra Sassow, CEO, SEaB Energy, said: “Talk to UKTI as they have programmes to support your market entry – from grants for attending exhibitions to market research services. In addition, some of the Universities are focusing on export markets and will assist with staff on the ground.”
Overcoming Cultural Differences
Robert Whitehouse, Business Development Director, Tekever, said: “The advice that 'people buy from people' holds true when doing business internationally. Building relationships is key, allowing any cultural differences to be minimised in the context of that strong relationship.”
Showcasing your Products
Robert Whitehouse said: “We’ve found that demonstration is the best way to engage with customers. If they can see for themselves what it is they would be buying, then that makes engaging far easier. We are fortunate to have flying aircraft that we can demonstrate in any country, helping to set a context for export.”
Sandra Sassow said: “We find that group missions such as UKTI sponsored missions and InnovateUK’s Clean and Cool Missions bring creditability and offer access beyond what we would be able to gain ourselves.”
High Quality Research
Sandra Sassow said: “Research is crucial – we qualified markets prior to spending anytime on them, at a very high level, for the basic business proposition we offer. We then used the UKTI services to do a more in depth market study.”
Robert Whitehouse said: “As part of our export plan we attended a UKTI “Passport to Export” workshop, which was very useful in working up our strategy. We took some time to identify our strengths and assess the target markets before engaging with potential customers.”
Making Overseas Agents Work for You
Sandra Sassow said: “We strongly believe that local agents have accelerated our market entry. They bring local relationships to the table, and knowledge of the local regulatory environment. They can assist in navigating the import process and introductions to key contacts. Additionally, we have found them invaluable in localising the marketing materials.”
Robert Whitehouse, said: “When deciding on which agents to work with it is import to do your homework. Any potential agent will have a reputation. It’s usually possible to find out how they are thought of within their home country and wider afield. Searching on social media is a good way to find 'off the record' comments.
The ‘Made in Britain’ Effect
Robert Whitehouse said: “In some countries there is great enthusiasm for British products. The UK is one of the largest aerospace markets in the world, second only to the US. In addition, UK regulations of unmanned systems is world leading – it is only natural that British products within the aerospace sector are seen as leading the market.”
Hampshire County Council offers a range of support for small and medium businesses, including the business networking group the Hampshire Enterprise Circle whose most recent event “BDO Going Global” helped businesses get on the right footing for a successful export campaign.