October 12th, 2020

Expanding to the UK – Oslo Innovation Week: Breaking Borders

Oslo Innovation Week Event Breaking Borders

Goodwille hosted a virtual event at Oslo Innovation Week 2020. We invited expert panellists to an interactive panel discussion covering their experiences and challenges of expanding to the UK. The panellists were Øyvind Reed, CEO of Whereby, Vinoth Vinaya, CEO and Co-Founder of Hold, Karen Klakegg, Director of People & Culture at Attensi, Frida Rustøen, Investment Manager at Idekapital Fund and Vegard K. Strand, Project Leader and Co-Founder of UT Prosjektet. Watch the full recording of the event and read some key takeaways below.

Why expand to the UK?

Businesses choose to set up in the UK for many reasons, three of the key reasons are to find new customers, raise investment or source new talent. 

Things to think about when expanding to the UK

It’s important to have local “feet on the ground” when expanding to the UK, someone who knows the culture, have an extensive network and is speaking the local language. The UK is often a relationship market and therefore someone who has knowledge of the market and a network to use is a great benefit. Vegard K. Strand explains that is crucial to have an “offensive” salesperson when selling in the UK, in Norway, for example, an offensive salesperson is not the same as a British one. In Norway, people are more laid back and have a “no bragging” attitude in the back of their mind and that can affect the success rate of the expansion. 

Frida Rustoen explains the importance of having a strong core team when scaling or expanding a business. Having an exceptional product is one thing, but having the right team behind it is equally as important.

Culture and hiring the right talent when setting up in the UK

A lot of companies now seem to have a more laid-back company culture with ping pong tables and flexible working hours. A Nordic company with Nordic values is a very attractive employer in the UK. It is known to have less hierarchy, more transparency and trust which is attractive for millennials and generationX.

It’s vital to keep a strong culture in the company when hiring new talent overseas. This will help attract the best and most suitable new talent. After finding the right talent founders and the core staff need to translate the culture and build an internal hunger for the new staff. Karen Klakegg explains that the most important thing in terms of retaining the company culture is to have an extensive onboarding practise with a lot of effort in the pre-boarding and onboarding and continued training yearly for all employees. 

Oyvind Reed shares that company culture is something dynamic, an organisation should absorb new culture and influences from new staff to always improve and get new insights. Often companies forget how important it is for an external person, outside the company’s bubble to share views on different aspects of the company. 

Research the market before expanding internationally

Frida Rustoen shares the importance of asking for help and to do extensive research before entering a new market. Even the location to open an office in is important. Many companies decide to open offices in glamorous places like London, New York or San Francisco but for some businesses and sectors, it could be better to set up in other locations outside the Metropol.

Many companies make the mistake in thinking that the world now is a place with global behaviours and that the UK and the Nordics aren’t that different. Kyrre Haugen from the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce explains that the UK is a dynamic market, and the approach and efforts in London are not the same as in other parts of the UK. He shares the need to research on a regional and sector basis to be able to get the most of the marketing and sales efforts when setting up in the UK. 

Vegard K Strand agrees that is vital for companies to take all the help they can from different service providers like Goodwille, the Chambers of Commerce and Department of Trade so the UK subsidiary can focus on their core business.  For us at Goodwille, it’s always interesting to hear the good and bad experiences of companies expansion internationally. To find out more about establishing your business in the UK and how we can help, do not hesitate to contact us. Read more about our services here