Life in the fast lane
A roadmap for scaling up your medium sized business
Scale-ups by their fast-growing nature need a sizeable market to sell to. This can mean looking to export into international markets or developing a product that can break into new sectors.
The benefits of exploring new market opportunities are clear – out of the 1138 MSBs that started exporting between 2010-13, over 14% of these businesses scaled-up. This is higher than the 11% of the total MSB population that scaled-up during the same period. The fast growing companies we interviewed testified that exporting can be key to boosting further growth through opening up new business partnerships or gaining access to niche markets.
"TestPlant had an international outlook from the outset – we didn't have a national plan. We wanted to build a global software business with the US as one of the key markets. Now our exports amount to 85% of sales."
George Mackintosh, CEO, TestPlant
Scale-up businesses can have vastly different export journeys, some being global business from day one courtesy of their online presence while others start at home before looking further afield. While there are many different paths there are common practices that can help mitigate risk and get the most out of exploring new markets.
Ensure the business has a digital and online transactional presence
Talk to people who have operated in the markets that your business is looking to enter
Explore whether partnering with existing companies in the region can reduce risk and provide market intelligence
Leverage UKTI to gain access to key contacts and access market opportunities
MSBs are performing well when it comes to distributing goods internationally with over half the 100 businesses we surveyed in 2014 saying they export. However, 28% of companies highlighted that they find it difficult to identify opportunities in foreign markets. There is a vital role to play for support schemes such as UKEF and the Growth Accelerator in giving businesses the intelligence and capabilities needed to access new markets.
"Scaling-up is an exciting process, but remember to keep an eye on core operations and their performance while you are expanding. You're likely to need your core operations to be at the top of their game more so than normal."
Alan Beresford, CEO, Omega Resource Group