Why the UK is a Great Place to Expand Your Business
I had left the corporate world and been a consultant for 18 months when I had my first opportunity to work with a company expanding into the UK. It was back in 1998 and it came from a well known Silicon Valley IT major that had developed image compression technology. They believed it could be the answer to slow download times on the Internet. They wanted to assess the market in Europe for the product to see if they really had a global solution.
As it was clear that my client’s manager was new to international business, I included a few slides at the start of the final presentation which gave some context to the UK’s ICT market. What surprised me was the number of ‘I did not realise that’ comments they provoked. So, if you are considering international expansion and are wondering whether the UK is the right place for you here are some positive reasons to choose the UK.
1. It’s a large market
The UK has one of the largest ICT markets in Europe with the largest consumer expenditure per head and an overall spend of £140 billion per annum. This represents 12% of GDP and results in 1.3 million jobs. Of the £140bn, £58bn is software and services. This revenue is generated by over 100,000 specialist companies as well as the global majors such as Google and Microsoft. In short, the UK ICT market is large.
2. It’s an open market
As well as size, another factor in deciding which country to choose for international expansion is how open the market is to new ideas. The UK has a long track record of developing and launching market-leading innovations across all key business sectors, from life sciences through to advanced engineering and from ICT through to environmental technologies. While the UK is very open to innovation (and compares very favourably with the other large markets in Europe), its corporate culture can appear to be be risk averse in its approach to adopting technology.
3. The ease of doing business
So how easy is it to do business in the UK? In the opinion of the World Bank, the UK is the best major location for ‘ease of doing business’ in Europe. They assessed a range of key commercial operating factors, such as setting up and running a business, labour regulations and obtaining finance. It is no surprise, therefore, that the UK attracts more international investment projects than anywhere else in Europe.
Common perceived barriers
But won’t UK companies prefer to buy from UK vendors? Here we can split the answer into two. If your UK customer is a top tier organisation they will buy directly from the vendor, but will look for the best solutions they can find globally. If they are second tier or lower they will almost certainly buy from a vendor’s channel partner who will provide the reassurance of being native. The UK in general and the London area in particular are very cosmopolitan. So as long as you can communicate well in English and are willing to adjust your business model to suit local conditions, your country of origin matters little. I’ll say a bit more on the subject of communicating well in English in a subsequent blog.
Here are a further six other reasons why the UK is a great place to expand your business:
• The UK is one of the top ten manufacturers in the world; and has the largest industries in Europe for Life Sciences, ICT and the Creative Industries.
• The UK is home to three of the top five globally ranked universities.
• The UK is at the forefront of the international digital revolution. London has more software developers than any other city outside of Silicon Valley.
• The UK has relatively low tax, less regulation and a talented workforce.
• The UK is the number one FDI destination in Europe.
• The UK’s open and internationally focused economy is one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world and a proven gateway to either the EU (for non-European firms) or other English speaking markets.
That’s nine good reasons to expand your business into the UK.
TBK Consult help software companies grow by internationalizing. TBK Consult’s UK based consultants have extensive experience of helping software businesses expand into the UK.
Sources: UKTI, ONS, Ernst & Young