Going Global – new study of Britain’s SME exporters reveals Brexit, data management, and international marketing as top pressure points for business leaders

LONDON – 11 July, 2018A new report published by global digital marketing agency Croud launches today, revealing some of the biggest challenges and opportunities British SME exporters expect to face in the run up to, and after, Brexit.

The report, which includes contributions from companies such as UNiDAYS, Monty Bojangles, Kit for Kids and a foreword from The Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 CEO, Hamish Stevenson, as well as a study of 100 leaders of SME exporters, provides data, analysis and best practice advice for SMEs doing business overseas in today’s climate.

Key findings include:

Data experts brimming with confidence 

Three quarters (78%) of SMEs questioned believe a more proactive approach to data management is important to gain a competitive advantage, but also those companies using data strategically across their business expect to see a 20% annual increase in growth over the next five years, a rate that is 19% higher than expected by those who do not use data.

Internally, sales and marketing teams are revealed as the departments that use data more than any other, with 81% using it at least to some extent and 40% of all SMEs using customer data to inform business decisions.

The Brexit effect

Almost two-thirds (63%) of British exporters cite Brexit as one of the biggest challenges they will face in the next 18 months, with just 1 in 4 believing that it will result in increased access to the global economy. This is despite the opportunities for trade with non-EU countries, the weaker pound and a potential wider talent pool to choose from.

However, once again there is a silver lining for SMEs taking a progressive approach to data management, as 70% of those SMEs classed as ‘data experts’ believe that innovations in AI and automation present one of the biggest opportunities to help drive business growth in the next three – five years.

Luke Smith, Co-Founder & CEO of Croud, said, “SMEs are the backbone of British enterprise and 2018 is a year of unprecedented change, with new technology accelerating, GDPR coming into force, and Brexit on the horizon. While most agreed that Brexit and regulatory changes present challenges, data presents an opportunity for SMEs to realise further growth – for example, 81% of SMEs are embracing data-driven marketing to execute campaigns at a global scale to drive serious ROI.

“It was no surprise that the most forward-thinking companies from a technology point of view are also the most optimistic about their futures.”

Hamish Stevenson, Founder & CEO of The Sunday Times Fast Track said, “This report is a great resource for other SMEs looking to expand internationally. It includes first-hand experiences and advice from UK companies that have achieved significant growth overseas.

“If an SME knows they have a product and service people will want to pay for, I’d suggest they take advantage of the fair winds, seek advice, make best use of the data available to drive decision making …and go for it.”

The Going Global Report was created using a combination of data-led research carried out by Sapio Research with 100 UK SME exporters and in-depth interviews with founders, MDs, CEOs and C-level individuals from 10 of the country’s most successful SMEs listed in the Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100, including contributions from the following:

  • Luke Smith, Co-Founder & CEO, Croud
  • Andrew Bullock, CTO, UNiDAYS
  • Andrew Newlands, MD & Founder, Monty Bojangles
  • Alex Lovén, MD, Net World Sports
  • Carol Cork, Co-Founder & Marketing Director, PrivateFly
  • Jan van der Velde, CEO, Kit for Kids
  • John Hibbard, Co-Founder & CEO, Red Paddle Board Company
  • Josh Richardson, MD, Superyacht Tenders and Toys
  • Seb Martin, MD & Founder, Bryter Market Research
  • Shaun Loughlin, MD, FreestyleXtreme
  • Hamish Stevenson, Founder & CEO, The Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100

The report launches at Croud’s Going Global: The UK SMEs making exporting look easy event on 11th July, featuring a panel discussion and drinks reception to discuss the key themes of the report.