Think global – how SMEs can succeed in a post-Brexit landscape

SMEs can be nimbler about overseas exports than their legacy competitors, says Michel FitzGerald

British businesses are experiencing a period of turbulence. As the nation grapples with the potential outcomes of its departure from the European Union, many businesses now face an uncertain future over their ability to trade across the continent.

Small business owners are unequivocally dedicated to making their company a success. With Brexit now having a significant impact on their decision making, there is now more at stake than ever.

Yet from this period of speculation also comes a real opportunity to take advantage of a changing business landscape and think more broadly about growth strategies.

SMEs already play a fundamental role in national economies around the globe – generating employment, economic value and contributing to innovation. In 2016 more than 99 per cent of UK private firms were SMEs, earning more than £1.8 trillion in revenue. But despite their influence on the economy, many UK companies are struggling in domestic markets, which remain dominated by bigger players.

Learn from somebody experienced

With 75 per cent of UK SMEs that go global becoming more profitable, there is clearly a huge prize to be won.

Knowledge sharing is paramount for understanding tried-and-tested strategies for international growth and the pool of experience among the UK SME community is growing every day. Collaborate with a decision-maker already reaping the benefits of adopting a lean and agile mindset.

You’re under constant scrutiny

Today, companies seek more social proof about prospective partners, checking with both their peers and competitors to understand a business before utilising it. SMEs can therefore no longer just sell the benefits, or try to hoodwink through clever marketing – customers aren’t reading the marketing, they’re reading the truth.

In today’s increasingly sceptical society, there is no such thing as an uninformed buyer. Platforms such as social media, review sites, ratings and internet searches allow your customers to find out the truth quickly and easily. Combining tools, evidence and product along with excellent customer service at every touchpoint will ultimately help to reassure them and build the trust that companies need to expand in an increasingly saturated and competitive landscape.

Now available everywhere

Due to their size, SMEs can deliver more value in terms of service and quality and achieve this with fewer staff and resources than large industry players. However, this also makes them more agile and able to flex their business models to ensure they can unlock their full potential.

Almost half (47 per cent) of respondents to a recent Currencies Direct survey said logistics was the biggest barrier to international trading. Building in a global shipping feature could help take your product to an international market with less delay.

SMEs can of course execute these changes quicker than their larger counterparts, often allowing them to take products to a global market ahead of the major industry players. New technology can also help SMEs wanting to succeed post-Brexit. By adopting new solutions and innovating faster, small businesses can find new ways to market and distribute their products and services most effectively.

Michael FitzGerald is founder and CEO of digital sales workflow platform OnePageCRM