Jane Imrie

Bdaily's Dr Roy Stanley on internationalisation: the importance of networking

On the third day of our internationalisation series, Dr Roy Stanley focuses on the advantages of networking to boost internationalisation, and the importance of ’click moments’ in building business relationships.

“The Black Swan Event (BSE) of the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a number of ‘Click Moments’. A ‘Click Moment’ was said by Franz Johansson - in his book with the same title - to be the taking of an opportunity in an unpredictable world.

“In my research into scaleups it was very evident that a large number of firms had ‘Click Moments’.

“Two firms in particular epitomised both sides of internationalisation. One an exporter with a presence in the international market, and one an importer that took advantage of a low-cost supply chain to expand its offering in its domestic market.

“The owners of the exporter met a senior salesperson (‘Click Moment’) from a US based firm at a trade show in the USA. This meeting led them to work together to establish a major operation across America.

“They followed an incremental approach to entering their identified international market. This firm benefited from small support grants provided by UKTI to do market investigation and to travel to two trade shows. This allowed them to develop informal networks before they formally entered the foreign market.

“This approach was transformative for the firm, that foreign market now accounts for nearly 50 per cent of their sales. Because of the increase in confidence by their success it has encouraged them to enter a second foreign market, in which sales are now significantly growing. This was seen as a way of spreading their trading risk.

“In 2003 the founder of the second firm was encouraged to go to China accompanied by a mentor (‘Click Moment’). He was one of the first to go to China and gained great advantage in establishing low cost supply chains. Both of these firms have grown rapidly as a result of their international trade.

“Product, process and/or distribution innovation often provide an impetus to international expansion. SMEs often depend on personal networks and even word of mouth to develop a presence in a new market.

“While it is relatively easy to establish personal networks in a domestic market, it may be more difficult and cost prohibitive for SMEs to establish themselves in overseas markets.

“The SME should start as soon as possible to investigate international markets and access to funding support from the likes of UKTI.

“When looking at networking options, SMEs should consider the following:

“Is your business open to ‘Click Moments’?

“Is the business adaptable enough to act quickly?

“Does the business have products and services that could be exported?

“Is it worth considering importing?

“How could the business develop partnerships in international markets?”

For more information on internationalisation for SMEs, contact Dr Roy Stanley here.

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