If you ever needed convincing that small businesses in the UK serve as part of a key economic engine, you need look no further than the statistics.
SMEs accounted for a staggering 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the beginning of 2017, for example while the combined turnover of these companies was estimated at £1.9 trillion.
With this in mind, it's little wonder that so many individuals are being encouraged to pursue their entrepreneurial views in the digital age. However, aspiring business-owners can face considerable challenges when looking to launch a new venture with a global focus, so here are some steps that can help you to achieve this objective.
1. Start in an Online Marketplace
While launching a global venture offers you immediate access to a huge marketplace, attempting to conquer the world as a start-up can be an extremely difficult challenge.
This is why you should start by establishing a presence online, primarily by targeting global marketplaces such as Alibaba in China. An estimated 488 million buyers accessed this resource in the year ending December 2017, while Amazon, Craigslist and eBay provide a similar service in alternative corners of the world.
The key is to target the national audiences that are relevant to your business, before identifying the virtual marketplaces through which they can be effectively engaged.
It's also imperative that you guarantee the integrity of each individual market, as some may have a history for the sale of counterfeit goods and fraudulent customer purchases. So, try to adopt a targeted and measured approach that makes account for a platform’s performance, reputation and costs.
2. Work with Foreign Distributors
As you look to extend your international presence, you'll need to identify reputable foreign distributors who operate in your chosen markets.
These intermediaries will connect your business and its products to offline retail outlets, enabling you to create an integrated sales strategy that optimises revenues. Interestingly, distributors of this type can offer additional value to your venture, by helping to market, sell and service your proposition in regional markets.
To help you with this, there are national organisations that provide a list of reputable distributors, with the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Office offering a relevant case in point. This type of resource can help you to launch your search and identify actionable channels through which to distribute your products.
We'd also recommend that you meet your potential distributors and view their operation in person, with cost-effective and accessible aircraft services helping you to visit even hard to reach destinations.
3. Forge International Partnerships
On a similar note, you can also hasten your route to an international market by partnering with a like-minded and overseas company.
This is a tried-and-tested strategy at both local and international level, with both small businesses and multibillion pound corporations able to benefit directly from this.
It's important that your chosen partner can add tangible value to your business, while also offering direct access to a predetermined and lucrative target market. You'll also need to have a clear understanding of the value that you offer to a potential partner, as this will prove crucial when negotiating the terms of the agreement.
It may also be worth identifying partners that share similar values and approaches to issues such as sustainability, as this creates a more natural union that can be sustained over time.