Peter Chulu received a Start Up Loan in 2013 to help develop his global market research service company, Field Scope International Ltd. Peter provides healthcare research for pharmaceutical companies in the big 5 EU markets (Germany, Spain, England, France and Italy).
He shares his advice for businesses considering going international.
Where does your business operate?
We have offices in the UK (England and Scotland) and are currently researching office space in the US. The USA is simply the next biggest market and it’s on the wish list.
Who are your customers?
In terms of clients we work with, this includes large pharmaceutical companies that are international. Approximately 70% of our customers are based outside the UK.
How did you market your business to get international clients?
We advertise in different market research publications that display our capabilities to global clients. We have been fortunate enough that the service we offer is quite niche and we have not had to carry out much marketing, most of the business has come to us via referrals from existing clients. Word of mouth from both UK based international clients and also foreign clients from abroad has helped spread awareness of the company.
Did you alter your business model to go international?
We have had to change our UK business model. We’ve also hired two project managers whose role is to specifically deal with international work. Communication is important with international customers, so our employees are often bilingual. We target modern language graduates, mainly German/Italian/French/Spanish and of course English as the majority of work we provide is within these big 5 EU markets.
Did you always want to be an international business?
We didn’t seek to go international, but the demand was there. It was something that the business evolved into.
What advice would you give to start ups and small businesses looking to export?
Make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions of trading internationally. We have had to write off around £10,000 in bad debt from companies that have refused to pay for work. International legal battles can be expensive, so make sure you know what you are getting in to and do your due diligence when researching customers.