Four things to think about when expanding your business into the UK

The UK is a minefield to foreign businesses, as outsourcing specialists, we often find that maintaining the same strategy from country to country can result in failure, more frequently than not. Ensuring that your strategy is tailored to the country, area or environment you wish to move your business to operate in is vital. It will give you the full advantage over direct competitors and to establish a strong position in the country of interest. There are a number of steps that can be taken to make sure that the expansion to the UK goes as smoothly as possible.

Costs

Pulling in your costs in the early days enhances your chances of success in the country you’re expanding to. If you don’t need a physical office in one of the most expensive cities, think about setting up a virtual office or PO Box for your British branch. Being sensible early on will get you steps ahead of the competition.

Move fast

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to rent physical space for retail purposes. In some of the bigger cities in the UK, prime retail space moves extremely fast, so you might not have long to decide.

Communication & Networking

In the start-up, entrepreneurship and business community there is an abundance of companies who have been through the process you’re embarking on. The best thing to do in this situation is to speak to those who have done it before. They might just give you the most valuable advice regarding where to go, what resources to take advantage of and more.

Your business could be the only one of its kind in its native country but coming across the pond, it could just be a drop in the water. One of the most important things when moving to the UK is to ensure that

Get it right

Expanding to, or opening premises/branch/subsidiary in the UK is an incredibly difficult and complex task for even a native business, let alone a foreign company. The biggest and most common problem faced by businesses when they expand or move into overseas territory without any industry advice or help is that they maintain their operations and manner of working from their home country. In some cases, this can result in a clash of cultures, ideology and beliefs depending on the country in question. Work with a specialist with in-country know-how.

Need help expanding into the UK marketplace? Email our friendly team at Goodwille on marketing@goodwille.com.

 

Britain Will Always Be Open For Business

On the 23 June 2016 over thirty million people turned out to have their say on whether the UK’s future remained in the European Union.

When 51.9% voted to leave the EU it caused the pound to crash globally and left half a nation enraged with talks of betrayal – 18 months on, we are still waiting for a change. We met up with Goodwille, a patron of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, who have been helping businesses from Sweden expand their operations to the UK for the past 20 years to find out exactly how Brexit has impacted their business and Swedish businesses decision to enter the UK since the referendum.

Have you seen a slow down in Swedish businesses entering the UK?

Brexit seems to be raising a lot of questions, but not influencing company’s decision to enter the UK market. The Swede’s are naturally risk averse, so at some point during client meetings we usually have to say, “Don’t mention the B word”, but they are usually just looking for reassurance. It seems to have become a conversation starter rather than a major factor in deciding whether they enter the UK. Despite all the uncertainty caused by Brexit to date it has had little impact on us here at Goodwille. Britain remains one of Europe’s most attractive markets for foreign investment and 2016 was our strongest financial year to date.

In my opinion most businesses who are serious about the UK realise the opportunity outweighs the current risk and the high-profile retail chains, along with the smaller start-ups we helped enter the UK from Northern Europe last year reconfirms this. Let’s not forget, the UK is still one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.

How would a hard Brexit impact Goodwille & businesses in the UK?

In 2016 the EU countries accounted for 48% of good exports and 53% of imports to the UK. With this in mind it is going to be in everyone’s best interest to keep the strong European trade links, so I just can’t see a hard Brexit happening by any stretch of the imagination. The UK has been a stepping stone in to North America for countless European businesses. The UK has a population three times that of Scandinavia, a pool of talent and is the tech capital of Europe.

Britain has always had big global trading ambitions. Brexit should see the best of this, making the UK a very enticing place to grow your business.

What would you say to those working in the UK from the EU?

There are over 2 million Europeans working in the UK at present and over a million British expats living across Europe. Brexit is a political issue, and there is surely no wish to eject such a large number of hardworking Europeans. Keep an eye on the embassy website for the official information and do not believe everything you read in the press.

What advice would you give to any Swedish business looking to the UK?

The UK is still a great market to do business in. Yes the rules may change over the next few years with Brexit, but Goodwille is a business with over 450 companies, many of which are facing the same problem. As such Goodwille is uniquely positioned to solve problems related to any changes that might occur and help our clients swiftly and efficiently. Ensuring the client can minimise the effects of any downside.

Goodwille have been helping foreign owned businesses enter the UK market for the past 20 years. To find out more about how Goodwille can help you in the UK, contact me on alexander.goodwille@goodwille.com


This update is for general guidance only. Specific legal advice should be obtained in all cases. This material is the copyright of Goodwille Limited (unless otherwise stipulated) and is not to be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent.

Things to to consider when recruiting UK employees

The UK labour market has an international reputation for being flexible and employer-friendly, particularly in comparison with its European peers. However, there are a number of laws, customs and idiosyncrasies that it’s important to be aware of if you’re setting up in the country for the very first time. In this guide, we’ve outlined a few things that you should be aware of when you’re recruiting in the UK.

Meeting tax obligations for your employees

Unlike some other countries, most UK employees don’t have much responsibility for their own tax affairs. Instead, their employer deducts tax and some other items from their salary before it is paid for them. This will require you as their employer to work with HMRC to ensure that the correct amounts are paid and that you remit these sums to them on a regular basis. You’ll then have to give your employees a P60 form, which is an annual summary of the amount of tax that you have paid on their behalf.

Tax can be a complex business in the UK. VAT obligations vary significantly depending on your sector and the particular arrangement you have with HMRC. If you aren’t confident, it’s well worth getting an expert to look at your setup to make sure that you don’t get caught out.

Minimum wage legislation

The UK minimum wage is split into a number of bands depending on whether an employee is an apprentice and how old they are. That means that the wage ranges from £3.50 an hour for an apprentice to £7.50 an hour for an employee aged 25 or over (known as the National Living Wage). The government has begun naming and shaming companies who do not comply with minimum wage legislation, so it’s vital that you get this right. Make sure you’re aware of what counts towards hours worked. You may be required to pay employees when they’re travelling between assignments for instance.

As with any country, the UK has a number of rules and customs that make it different from other markets. Trying to apply a model that’s worked elsewhere to your UK operations could easily get you into trouble. Before you recruit your first UK employee, please ensure that you’re up to speed with your obligations, and get in touch with Goodwille today for further guidance.

Do you need insurance for your UK office opening social event?

Do you need insurance for your UK office opening social event?

Many small UK businesses host informal parties for their staff and clients during the festive season and to celebrate special promotions and events during the year. However, did you know that your new business premises in the United Kingdom may not be covered for such events under your existing business insurance?

Your liability if you serve alcohol to your visitors or employees

If you decide to serve alcohol in your office, you could be held liable for any booze-related incidents. In fact, in the UK you could find yourself on the wrong end of a law suit if any of the following incidents are deemed to have occurred because those involved had consumed alcohol at your party:

• damage to property
• bodily harm
• sexual assault or harassment
• underage alcohol consumption
• drink-driving related accidents

How can alcohol liability insurance protect your business?

Even if the extent of your alcohol serving merely entails a bottle of mulled wine and a few beers in the office after work on Christmas Eve, you must have a Liquor Liability Insurance policy in place.

Your policy will cover any claims made by guests who were injured or who had items of property damaged by other attendees who were intoxicated. This cover also includes legal fees and covers any damages that may be sought and awarded. Although your standard business insurance policy won’t cover alcohol-related incidents, you can generally have it updated to include Liquor Liability Insurance as an additional endorsement.

Another method of getting Liquor Liability cover is to take out a stand-alone special event insurance policy. This may work out slightly more expensive than an endorsement to your existing UK business insurance policy, so have a chat with a good financial adviser to explore both options so that you secure the best deal for your circumstances.

It’s worth noting that, even if you only serve someone one drink at your office bash, you could still be liable for incidents that occur if they go on to paint the town red subsequently. Liquor Liability Insurance will cover you for such eventualities.

In conclusion

If you’re planning on serving your staff or clients with alcohol at an informal social event on your new UK business premises, you must consider taking out Liquor Liability Insurance cover. The extra premium will be a small price to pay for your peace of mind.

For more advice on local law when setting up a UK office, contact the team at Goodwille.

4 top tips for international expansion

Taking your business to international markets is a natural and ambitious growth goal. When done correctly it can increase your reach, expand your brand and boost your revenues dramatically. When done incorrectly, it can cause huge setbacks and costs.

Here are four questions to ask yourself to make sure your expansion is a success:

1. Is there a market?

It seems like an obvious question, but be sure you’re basing the answer on evidence, not assumptions. In the 1970s, United Kingdom-based tile manufacturer Redland tried to expand their concrete tile business to international markets. Unfortunately for them, concrete tiles were not very popular in the US and Japan, so their attempts there failed. Do your homework carefully, and ensure there is a market for your product.

2. Do you have the right people?

Make sure you have a management team with the skills and experience to manage business in the target company, and, crucially, to integrate operations between your two branches. You don’t need to set up an office abroad with full-time staff straight away. Some physical presence will be required, certainly, but you can use remote working and outsource to contractors until you get off the ground.

3. Is the required infrastructure present?

Even behemoths like Netflix can slip up when going international. Stock prices of the streaming giant fell when they went global in 2016, and one major problem was infrastructure. The payment processing and broadband technology wasn’t as developed or as well rolled out in some countries, and it cost them. What infrastructure do you need? Is it present? This is key, especially if you’re a technology start up.

4. Do you have the local knowledge?

When US delivery services DHL and Airborne moved to Germany, their American entrepreneurial spirit clashed with the previously state-owned Deutsche Post. You need people that know not only the country, but your specific market within in. By expanding into a new country you’re also entering a lesser-known legal jungle. It would be unwise to do so without a guide. So, get a good lawyer on your legal team who knows the country and the market.

Goodwille helps businesses with their international expansion every day, and we have a diverse client range in countries worldwide, which gives us a vast amount of experience and knowledge that we can bring to the table when helping you. Talk to us before you start your international expansion get the inside track and avoid the pitfalls.

Why the Stockholm start-up tech scene is a huge success

The tech scene in Stockholm is booming, so much so that it has become the second most prolific tech hub in the entire world. Per capita, no other city has more billion dollar tech companies apart from San Francisco. With huge levels of energy shown over the past few years, the capital of Sweden is now home to in excess of 20,000 start-ups.

Back in 2016, over €1.5 billion was raised by tech companies in Sweden, that marks a huge fifty percent increase from the 2015 figure. The increasing level of investment has also seen support grow in the community, with more and more start-up hubs, investors and events, making the scene in Stockholm more connected. The growing scene has largely been helped by the fact that there are a number of successful companies that were born in Stockholm who are acting as role models.

For Stockholm, those companies are Klarna, Spotify, Skype and plenty more. Having companies that have gone on to become household names around the planet within your community can only help and encourage exceptional talent, and it also acts as a way of attracting some of the most promising talent from around the world to come and work in Stockholm.

Culture, society and values

The local culture in Stockholm is also one of encouragement and a great place for start-ups to feel as if they have potential to grow. Sweden has a mostly informal society, where teamwork comes to employees naturally. Sweden also has an admirable safety and social welfare system, which allows entrepreneurs to take slightly bigger risks without worrying about losing everything. The high level of well-educated workers, along with the fact that pretty much everybody in Sweden speaks English fluently, has also contributed to Stockholm’s start-up scene boom.

The government in Sweden also has a history of encouraging tech and innovation. Recognising that computers would play a huge role in the future, the Swedish government of the 90s made the bold decision to subsidise personal computer purchases. Their decision massively increased computer literacy rates and saw children in the country grow up with high levels of computer skills. Those early efforts are now paying off handsomely for the country, and Sweden has a digital economy that’s the envy of many countries all over the world.

At Goodwille, we specialise in helping businesses succeed with their expansion plans. Whether you’re thinking about opening a UK office, or you’re looking to expand further afield, we can help through our larger network. Get in touch with us today, and let us help you succeed with your expansion plans.

Why setting up a UK company requires accountancy “guardians”

Why setting up a UK company requires accountancy “guardians”

There is a tendency to think that technology has rendered many financial services obsolete. After all, you can now carry out many compliance and financial management obligations using cloud computing or appropriate software.

If you are at the helm of a new UK startup, particularly one that is the culmination of a long-held ambition, handing over a key element of control in the early days can be particularly tough. The idea of outsourcing the daily management of your financial affairs may seem to fly in the face of your concept of being an ambitious entrepreneur.

However, if you don’t find an accountant based in London or elsewhere in the UK, you may be missing out on two major bonuses for establishing and growing businesses. The services of a trusted adviser and a financial guardian.

Why you need a trusted adviser

To underpin any form of expansion, or simply when you are establishing a new UK office, you need to have your finger on the financial pulse of your venture at all times. Outsourcing accountancy support means you have the services of a neutral third party, who can keep their focus firmly on the financial health of your business, without any of the distractions that your executive team face.

Technology has both freed accountants from the constraints of compliance and provided them with far more agile data analysis tools. This means they can now go much deeper into both forensically examining your financial affairs, and creating reliable predictive modelling.

With this sort of detail, they can influence your business strategy from a position of insight and evidence. They can also make sure you don’t waste time or money on business strategies which have the potential to fall short of an acceptable rate of return.

Accountancy services offer emotional intelligence

Outsourcing accountancy services to a trusted adviser is not just about setting up your UK company with facts to fall back on. Creating any new venture can be an emotionally charged period, with stress levels high despite even the most thorough planning and foresight.

If you have established a relationship of trust and understanding with a commercial financial advisor, you have created a voice of reason.

Any accountancy firm worth their fees will be ready to speak up when your ambition is outstripping your financial stability, for example. They will have the confidence and acumen to reign back decision makers when a financial health problem is imminent.

A Company Secretary is just as important today as a decade ago

In April 2008, the law changed in relation to the Company Secretary and it is no longer a legal requirement to have one in place. If a company was registered after 6 April 2008, there won’t automatically be a provision in place that requires a Company Secretary to be appointed. Companies registered before that date are now able to remove the provision, thereby negating the legal requirement to have a Company Secretary in place. However, despite the lack of a legal requirement, the Company Secretary plays an important role which many people still wish to fill.

What does the Company Secretary do?

The role itself will vary from company to company, as will the decision as to whether the Company Secretary is also a director. Duties will usually be based around ensuring that the company and its directors fulfil all statutory responsibilities and duties. This may take the form of instructing and monitoring experts. It can also include reporting to HMRC, filing tax returns, keeping an eye on finances, arranging meetings and preparing reports. The list is almost endless and very much depends on which duties the directors decide to delegate.

Who else could do this if there wasn’t a Company Secretary?

The obligations that are carried out by the Company Secretary are effectively delegated by the directors. In a small company, directors may choose to do the administration and ensure compliance with statute themselves. They might also choose to outsource this role to an agency that can do it for them.

However, it is important to remember that any legal obligations will ultimately remain the responsibility of the directors, so it is important to appoint someone in whom you have absolute faith if you do decide to delegate. The benefit of a Company Secretary is that they will become jointly liable for any failures in relation to duties under the Companies Act. The exception to this is in relation to filing accounts which is solely the responsibility of the directors. Hence if the Company Secretary is also a director, they become liable for that as well.

So are they still needed?

If you are running a very small company and you have enough personal knowledge to ensure that you comply with requirements, a Company Secretary may not be needed. However, if you are unsure of your obligations or how to comply with them, it is worth appointing a Company Secretary or outsourcing the role. Ignorance is no defence to a breach of the law. This applies equally to company directors. Hence it is always better to be on the safe side and appoint an expert as the Company Secretary.