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Taking Your Startup Global: How These UK Businesses Made it Big Abroad

Growing your own business to reach international customers is daunting. Reaching a global audience is perhaps one of the biggest goals for entrepreneurs, but this can be hugely difficult to achieve. To give you an idea of how to do it, here are some of the ways that UK-based startups have made a name for themselves abroad.

Develop a strong and loyal customer base before launching overseas

A strong and loyal local customer base will ensure that your business has a solid foundation for expanding. Repeat customers will mean that you continue to have cash coming into your business as you work on reaching out to an audience overseas, which costs both time and money. With brand loyalty, you can rely on your customers to promote your brand through word of mouth giving you free advertising. When buying online, over half of the customers surveyed admitted to reading and trusting online customer reviews, proving these are imperative to the success of your brand.

Having brand loyalty within your existing customers base can ensure that they send out positive reviews online, which can work to encourage more consumers, something food brand Huel have managed to achieve. With its own dedicated fanbase, known as “Huelers”, and a string of high profile names, including One Direction’s Niall Horan as well as rapper and TV personality Professor Green Huel has managed to push itself into the spotlight. Followers of the brand are able to stay connected via the Huel forums and potential customers can simply look through the brand’s own testimonial page to read some of the glowing product reviews. Fans range from self-professed “foodies” to shift-workers who are too crunched for time to cook traditional meals and may only use the product occasionally. Reading through, there’s no doubt the fans are loyal to the product, which has allowed it to reach out to over 55 countries and counting.

Find the solution to universal customer problems

According to a report from PA Consulting Group, 66% of businesses believed their organization won’t survive without innovation. Finding a new solution to a common problem is perhaps the best and easiest way your business can provide an innovative service to your customers, which can help increase the success of your company. In some cases, the solution could be something incredibly simple, as is the case with Twickets. The ticket resale platform initially launched on Twitter in 2011 as a way to connect fans with face-value ticket sellers, rather than pay over-the-odds prices on tout websites. Using retweets, hashtags, and the Twitter API, the success of Twickets grew exponentially, and it eventually required its own website to deal with the demands.

The brand managed to grow through simple word of mouth online, with founder Richard Davies boasting: “We’ve never spent money on marketing.” Celebrities soon caught on, and began backing the business with their own endorsements, and now many artists, including Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran, are choosing to work solely with the company to let fans ethically purchase tickets to sold out shows. Since its humble beginnings on Twitter, Twickets has now started trading in countries around Europe, as well as New Zealand and Australia, and launched in America in late 2017, filling the gap in the market for ethical ticket resales.

Understand what your customers are going through

As well as being able to fill any gaps in the market, you should also be aware of how your customers are engaging with your business from the get-go. This can help you understand how you can fine-tune your business plan, and make any necessary adjustments to the way you’re trading before they turn into larger issues. This is exactly what CEO Will Shu did upon the launch of London-based food delivery service, Deliveroo. In a bid to bring good quality food to city workers, who otherwise couldn’t fit it into their busy schedules, the former investment banker worked to “solve the dual problems recognised with [older food delivery company] Just Eat (lack of recognisable restaurants and slow delivery times)”.

In Deliveroo’s early days, Shu took it upon himself to become the brand’s first driver and delivered food every day for the first eight months, to “understand what the customer went through”. This allowed him to fine-tune the business plan, to offer a service that customers could easily use and enjoy, turning them into repeat customers. Knowing what kind of issues customers could potentially face gave Shu a starting point when introducing the service to new cities and customers, allowing him to start expanding globally. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength and recently managed to raise an additional £74 million from private investors before launching in its 200th city.

In an age where e-commerce is more popular than ever, it’s imperative for entrepreneurs to know how to spread their ideas across the globe. From having a loyal customer base to finding a solution to a common problem that has yet to be addressed, taking inspiration from these companies can help you grow your business internationally.