As an island nation, Great Britain has a vested interest in global export markets. However the economic challenges of the last few years have meant that many small businesses have had to keep their focus on the day-to-day running of operations – many wider ambitions like exporting have had to be put on hold.
However, I believe that now is the time for these businesses to start looking at and acting on the potential rewards that can be achieved in overseas markets.
Exporting has been a hugely important aspect of our business right from the word ‘go’. We quickly learnt to overcome our fears about trading in overseas markets as we knew that the UK was never going to be a big enough market for us in terms of our short and long terms aspirations.
Naturally, all small business leaders can be daunted by the prospect of exporting if they’ve never done it before. There are numerous hurdles to overcome, from practical considerations such as language barriers and marketing capabilities, to logistical worries about late payment and legalities.
With all of these considerations in mind, it’s really easy for firms to delay or even completely switch off from the idea of exporting. However, many of these challenges are easy to overcome by taking the time to research overseas audiences and ensuring you have the right support and advice.
We accessed the expertise of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) through the Passport to Export scheme. Passport to Export gave us the training, planning and ongoing support we needed to succeed in several territories. It helped us to identify and plan our expansion – particularly when it came to selecting partner organisations in foreign markets.
Our key to success was the fact that we recognised our product’s ability to transcend international barriers very early on. Essentially, Tangle Teezer suits all hair types, and so appeals to a broad consumer audience.
However, when looking to expand globally we recognised that a ‘one size fits all’ ethos couldn’t be applied to our export strategy – every country is different. We needed to mine insights into different markets and tailor our approach accordingly.
Exporting certainly hasn’t been plain sailing for Tangle Teezer, like anything in business there are sometimes ups and downs. One example can be seen in our initial launch in Germany, which proved to be surprisingly slow going in Tangle Teezer’s early days.
Few orders were coming in and we were coming up against brick walls. Luckily, the support we received through Passport to Export was invaluable. We were able to turn the situation around and Germany is now one of our biggest markets.
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