Challenges when setting up in the UK
The UK market is unlike businesses in Australia or New Zealand. Most business industries here have matured and there is stiff competition even when it comes to acquiring a small share of the market.
Many of my client business managers find themselves lost when they first try to set up operations in the country. One question that I get quite often is, “We are preparing to enter the UK market, or just landed here. How do we navigate the market and achieve our key objectives with minimal risk and delay?”
My answer usually depends on the industry, but there are two things that almost every business needs. First is the ability to adapt to a new market and second is to collaborate with a local business partner who knows the British culture and market demand. Also you need ruthless efficiency and fanatical dedication to the Pope…
Well, perhaps not the last two.
Jokes on Spanish Inquisition aside, you do need to have a thorough knowledge and understanding of British culture and what motivates them to buy goods and services. This is an area where a local partner can make a significant difference.
A business start-up and development expert in the British market can significantly improve your chances of setting up a sustainable business. They possess the knowledge of market demand that would be difficult to ascertain for a newcomer. They also have the experience on what has already been tried and failed and help you steer clear of projects that are unlikely to succeed.
A business set up expert can guide you about opportunities present in the market at different geographic locations and product categories. They can also warn you about threats to your business venture in the shape of government regulations, local competition, tax matters, legal compliance and shifting demand patterns.
Another area where most new businesses coming in to the country struggle is their failure to adapt to a new market. I have seen so many examples where foreign businesses from Australia, New Zealand and even the U.S.A. come to the UK and bring their management teams and personnel from abroad without considering the option of hiring local talent (Look out for our case study on this one). They believe that the people who have helped them succeed back home can do the same in a completely new environment. We saw this happen recently with a large, experienced retailer in our Bunning’s debacle last month.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not question the ability and skill levels of their management teams. What I do question is their ability to transfer these skills and practices acquired in an emerging market and successfully apply them in a new market. This is especially difficult if they have never lived abroad or do not have a global trusted network. Lack of a network severely hampers the sales process making it difficult to buy or sell their products and services.
Businesses in the UK are in a league of their own, especially with the upcoming changes with Brexit. They are very quick to adapt and carefully guard their market interests. Business leaders are well connected and have a strong network.
When a new entrant comes into the market, businesses here can be quick to cut prices and even copy any improvements that the newcomer brings to the table. They have the scale and operational capability to do this. The UK market simply isn’t the place where you can make mistakes as a business leader.
In order to succeed in the UK you would need a solid market entry plan and, a strong marketing network. You would also need a host of local talent in management AND lower levels and create a good governance structure. All of this may seem easier said than done, but it can be achieved with the right business partner.
Global Front Room is a leading business consultancy with a track record of success. We have helped many new businesses set up in the UK and helped them achieve sustainable growth over the years. If you are also looking to start operations in the country feel free to join our network and let know how we can help.
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