Andrew Collis, CFO of Moneypenny
Growth. It is the very lifeline of long-term business. And growing globally, well it’s every business leader’s dream – however, it is less about growing, and more about building your organization to scale for growth.
What is scaling for rapid growth?
Every CEO and management team has a vision. In most cases, it is to grow, to be the best, for their organization to become a household name. There is nothing wrong with that, but what they should be setting out is a vision to scale.
Growth is important. It is what we all want for ourselves and our organization, we speak about a growth mindset in abundance. When an organization grows, revenue, and possibly market share, increase, but at the same time so do your expenses, as you need to hire more people and so on. There is growth in both business size and cost, so the margins barely alter.
If you focus on scaling, yes, your revenue increases but it does so at a much faster rate than your expenses. Thus, you have the time and resources to support the increased business and to do it for the longer term. Less haste, more speed.
So, in setting yourself up to succeed and create a sustainable business model, it is not about setting your organization up to grow, it is about setting it up to scale.
How to tell if you are ready to grow globally?
There is more scope than ever to become a global business, but there are challenges and considerations. International expansion does not come unexpectedly; it is usually a logical step after you start increasing trade with an overseas market and you get to the point where it is a natural step to have an international base to grow your service or product offering more quickly and efficiently. This could also lead to further growth through acquisitions in that location.
When choosing to expand, this will naturally be dictated by several factors. These are the key questions to ask before you make the decision to move:
Is it in an area where there is local demand for your products or services? Is there potential for expansion? Is there a good pool of skilled people to recruit locally? Does it have good transport links, especially if you are making and shipping products? Will the local and national political environment help or hinder your business? Does the location offer office space at a reasonable price?
Before our US launch at Moneypenny, we were already receiving 20 enquiries every month from US businesses, and already serviced several American companies from our 24/7 UK office. These businesses came to us as they used our services in the UK and were looking for the same dedicated receptionist service in the States. We had the demand. We then decided we wanted to open an office in the US with American receptionists, who could service customers just as if they were based in their office and offer a personalized service. After visiting the US multiple times throughout 2014 we knew we could find the right people locally and base the office in an area with great links. What is more, we already had an extensive international network spanning many different business sectors, so it was a natural step to include the US in our network
How to develop your expansion strategy.
Creating a robust global growth and expansion strategy is no mean feat. It requires time, focus and buy-in, however it will set you up for success by creating the foundation for a sustainable future.
Clear organizational goals mean that there is purpose and direction so the first question to ask is – what is the goal of global growth? New markets? Diversification? Brand-building? Answer this question and you can develop your plan.
You have done your market research in asking if you are ready to expand internationally yet there is always more to do to identify the opportunities and obstacles before you embark on your plan. And then, once you have all of this, it is time to evaluate which strategy is the best suited to your business. Acquisition? Strategic partnerships? Licensing? It all depends on your timescale, budget, and goals.
The Moneypenny growth strategy in the US was fundamentally the same as the UK and we generated traction quickly. In the early days we could gain customers quickly through marketing, such as using Google AdWords. Initially, we did not need physical expansion in terms of additional sites to grow, however, to fuel growth we needed to rely on the financial strength of the UK business which was funding the US marketing budget.
Once established in the US we had the foundation to extend the strategy to look at acquisitions. And in 2020 we acquired VoiceNation. We consolidated our US business into one office in Atlanta, bringing people together in tailor-made offices with better accessibility, while widening our talent pool.
One last piece of advice, keep revisiting your strategy. Does it still make sense? Even if it remains the same, revisiting your strategy ensures that you continue to meet the needs of the organization.
How to maintain culture and values globally.
Finding the right leadership team is critical to maintain company values and culture.
The biggest challenge in expanding overseas is getting the balance right between keeping the values and ethos of what made the company a success in your founding country, but also adapting it so it is relevant to the new market. Your local leadership team is vital in achieving this, as is getting your founding leadership team to spend as much time in the new market as possible, so that your company messages are delivered and sustained.
Visibility is important, seeking out environments that reinforce the way you do business and your cultural norms, and communicating consistently and cohesively
Scaling is more than just growth. It is flexibility, agility, versatility, resilience. It is about setting your organization up for success, so it can grow and take on more business without overstretching. It requires a clear purpose, strategy, structure, and team, and to succeed it relies on the very building blocks of your organization – your culture.