By Kelly Hoppen, Export Ambassador for the Business is GREAT Britain campaign
I’ve always been an advocate of encouraging business people to follow their dreams. With over 30 years of first-hand experience building different businesses, I know what’s involved in turning an idea into a reality. We’ve got some amazing small businesses in the UK and I’m immensely proud of the talent and skills we can share in new markets.
Much of doing business includes conquering your fears. There are parts of growing a business that will challenge you to do things you have never done before. Confidence is vital when doing business – believing in yourself, your ideas and your ability is incredibly important. Then you can surround yourself with the right team to get the job done.
I’d advise businesses to take onboard advice from others and have patience. Always remember that being flexible and agile as a business person will help your enterprise to flourish. Challenges are just opportunities you are yet to capitalise on, so see them in a positive light and don’t give up on a business idea you feel will work.
As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, today is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.
As an entrepreneur there are many challenges to face, whether this is seeking out how to export beyond the UK or to raise the finances needed to get your idea off the ground. Events are being held around the world this week to highlight and celebrate women’s role in business as innovators, and their contribution to the world economy.
Below are some thoughts from Kelly Hoppen, Export Ambassador for the ‘Business is GREAT Britain’ campaign and Amelia Rope, founder of Amelia Rope Chocolates Ltd which I hope you find helpful.
Further information and advice can be found at http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/women-in-enterprise/
Kelly Hoppen’s top ten tips for breaking into new international markets
1. Research, research, research
Contact UKTI and use the expert international trade advisors (ITAs) to help you research yourtarget marketsand potential customers. Book a free appointment with an ITA today by visiting www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/ukti
Have a business plan and the necessary capital. Talk to your bank and UK Export Finance (UKEF), the government’s export finance provider, well in advance. If pitching to an investor they’ll care more about how you’re going to a.) get to revenue, b.) scale it over the first year, and 3.) retain those customers. Plan your responses in advance.
3. Meeting with investors
When preparing to pitch to an investor, it’s important to know your pitch inside and out, and have multiple lengths stored in your brain. This doesn’t mean learning it by rote but practice the content and deliver it confidently. Include your learnings in your investor pitch. Investors like to see the market research you’ve done. Wherever possible, include positive testimonies from real customers.
Take part in overseas events, trade fairs or missions to test markets, attract customers, appoint agents or distributors and make sales. UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) Trade Access Programme provides grants to companies to attend trade shows and missions worldwide.
5. Know the currency
Understand the currencies you will need to deal with. Talk with your foreign exchange provider early, as they can give you insights intothe potential currency risks.
6. Start small
It’s tempting to pursue multiple markets. Don’t.Begin by focusing on one or two markets.
7. Seek out support and advice
There are several organisations that are dedicated to supporting overseas trade – such as UKTI, UKEF and Chambers of Commerce, as well as specialists in banks, law and accountancy firms. Their support will be crucial. Seek support from your peers too – deliver your pitch to a friend and ask them to pose the tricky questions to you so that you are fully prepared.
8. Appreciate cultural differences
Failure to take account of different cultures can lead to damaging and costly mistakes. This could range from causing offence by not observing correct protocol to inappropriate packaging and marketing.
9. Get paid
It’s easy to overlook the risk of non-payment. Establish the credit rating of potential clients and guard against non-payment through letters of credit or credit insurance. UKEF can provide advice and insurance where the private market can’t help.
10. Be patient
It won’t happen as quickly as you anticipate. Local customs and legislation can slow things down.
Amelia Rope, founder of Amelia Rope Chocolates Ltd – On not taking ‘no’ for an answer.
“The key turning point for my luxury chocolate business was in 2010. I secured my first two bites from the online store, Hush, and the crème de le crème of retailers, Selfridges. I was on Cloud 9. I booked my first appointment with the bank manager, confident in my ability to borrow a small sum of money to build my business. But unfortunately, they declined. It was during an economically unstable period and it meant I had to turn elsewhere for the injection of cash I desperately needed to supply the retailers. Back then, the likes of crowd funding weren’t an option and I went into discussions with a range of investors, but it became clear this wasn’t the route for me. I needed them to truly invest in the whole package – me, my ideas and my chocolate – and I wanted to retain control of my brand. After raising money through friends and family, I secured the retailers and my business took off. I recently went back to the bank to ask for a much greater amount. And they said yes! Not only did they believe in me and the business (I now had a solid trading history), but it was clear they had received support from the Government to take the leap with small businesses too.”