SFW Brexit
Rebecca Wayman

Scaleup Focus Week: How will UK businesses scale internationally in a post-Brexit world?

With the impending extended deadline of Brexit vastly approaching the UK, how will businesses be able to scale succesfully come January 31?

If Britain officially leaves the EU in early 2020, there will be many factors that could hinder a business’ success of scaling on an international level, and thus continuing to prosper - and expand - into new territories.

With this in mind, we gathered thoughts and opinions from business leaders dotted across the UK on what they think companies, entrepreneurs and the like should do in order to continue trading after the Brexit deadline.

Andrew Peddie, FHL Cloud Solutions

“Many successful UK firms won’t consider operating overseas - whether distribution centres or manufacturing sites - because they believe it is too costly or difficult.

“Others worry that the reporting burden will be too great and they [may] be forced to manage multiple financial and reporting systems across different territories.

“Bosses of successful companies are still unaware that business management tools - part of the transformation of businesses worldwide, enabled by cloud computing - will let their company run multiple countries’ administrative needs as a single entity.

“Firms can now expand overseas because they can comply with each country’s financial, import and export and tax regimes - as well as gaining visibility of their trading operations.”

Brendon Hayward, managing director and joint founder of Osbit

“Osbit has always been based and owned in the North East. With a global project footprint in the offshore energy industry and predominantly local supply chain, we have a deep, vested interest in our region’s success post-Brexit.

“We believe that our continued success in scaling post-Brexit lies in having a growth mindset to harness our confidence in the global market. We also think building a culture which embraces change, as ours does, is important.

“The only model which makes sense, for us at least, is to view Brexit as an opportunity to continue to deliver excellence for those customers with a need for what you can deliver.

“In our industry, this means developing more advanced technology solutions to enable the offshore world, coupled with delivering a service that sets you apart internationally. “Given all the unknowns, this is the strategy which we believe gives us the greatest chance of success.”

Alex Humphries, head of digital at Luxury Flooring and Furnishings

“Brexit could undoubtedly have an impact on our new brands and the overall company, particularly with the likes of tariffs being applied, delays at customs and increased amounts of paperwork, so it would undoubtedly be easier if we were to remain in the European Union and continue to enjoy the frictionless trade in these territories.

“Having said that, our directors are young, ambitious entrepreneurs, and they’re prepared to take risks to see the company grow.

“Therefore they were not prepared to stand still while many others are stood around waiting for Brexit to be solved, and made the decision to launch into European markets regardless.

“Many of our suppliers are primarily based in Europe, and so there is potential for us to dispatch products directly from their hubs, rather than have to import and export them to and from the UK, which will save us time and money, and ultimately provide a seamless experience for our customers.”

Sean Ball, director of marketing at durhamlane

“Sales is the lifeblood of any business. That’s why, at durhamlane, we believe that successfully scaling your business must come [with] the three ‘P’s - people, process and pipeline.

“In other words, finding the best sales people for your business, putting in place an effective sales strategy that works at scale and, lastly, filling your pipeline with quality leads.

“This will not change in a post-Brexit world. In fact, there will be even more opportunities to scale internationally (with the right approach).

“The first way would be to work with a sales recruitment company with international capabilities in order to find the best sales professionals across multiple territories.

“Another way would be to outsource sales/lead generation responsibilities rather than trying to do everything in-house (especially for multilingual requirements).

“In spite of Brexit, durhamlane has continued to win multilingual projects, delivering services into European countries from European companies.”

Lizzy Hodcroft, founder of Myndr

“Being able to scale your business is integral to creating growth and impact. However, it’s a very delicate balancing act that can make or break a business.

“From my own experience including working with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years, scaling too quickly is often the reason businesses fail.

“Regardless of if you are just trying to grow nationally or internationally, it’s important to ensure you have all the resources (funding, staff, supply chain, etc) that you need prior to making the jump forward.”

Craig Carnochan, head of specialist industries at recruitment specialist TS Grale

“If you want your business to thrive, scalability is critically important. Scalability requires different mindset and leadership style than a simple steady growth agenda.

“I see it as two fold, you should start with your culture and ensure you have the capability internally to shift the mindset into a new way of working/thinking as well as looking externally at what you want to achieve, such as new client relationships, new regions, acquisitions, service offerings etc.

“You need to understand the regions you want to expand in to internationally, is your product/service appropriate for the region, can you provide your product/service effectively without materially changing your business model?

“Many regions do business in different ways and have very different cultures and you need an appreciation of this, or you will struggle to get the traction you desire.”

Raman Sehgal, founder of ramarketing

“From our perspective, the challenges we’ve faced when scaling have primarily been around people and process.

“Scaling up adds operational stress, strains systems and processes and of course, impacts teams. You have to think about the operational impact of winning additional business.

“It’s all well and good winning more clients, but how are you going to deliver the work? Talent acquisition is a huge challenge when you’re scaling a business.

“You have to make a call between gearing up for growth and getting bums on seats before you win the business, or adding people as you go which can often be a lengthy process (and can result in people coming in too late).

“There’s also the impact on culture to consider. A lot of small business owners spend those early years crafting a culture and when it comes to scaling, they obviously want to bottle and maintain it.

“But you’ve got to consider how your culture will evolve as you grow. Naturally, it won’t stay the same as when you started out and that’s ok.

“In short, if you’re thinking about scaling up, make sure to get your house in order first (people and processes) and be brave!”

Edward Stephens, global head of brokerage and partnerships at Angel Investment Network

“I think we have to remain hopeful the UK government will want to prop up the good work it’s done for startup companies and growth companies alike, a major part of which will be assisting companies in international expansion.

“A recent discussion with Stephen Welton (founder of BGF Britain’s most active SME Fund) stressed the importance of the UK’s plan to support the next wave of homegrown international companies.

“I think there are a lot of vested interests in making sure this is kept as pain free as possible. Any obstructions faced will be met by technology reducing the costs of conducting business in territories that have been adversely affected by the political upheaval.”

What do you think of this topic? Is there something you’d like to discuss further with us, or simply want your say on the matter? Tweet us @Bdaily and follow #ScaleupFocusWeek to stay in touch.

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