Differences in business culture in London, Berlin and Oslo

London, Berlin and Oslo – three European capital cities all considered to be great places for business. One might think that if you are successful in one of the cities, you can plug and play your strategy if you plan to expand to a new market. It’s Northern Europe after all! However, in some aspects the business culture and how business is conducted differ significantly between the cities. Below are just two of the aspects that work differently in London, Berlin and Oslo.

Employment

In London, most of the employment is based on a permanent and pensionable format. Employees’ health and safety, insurance, pension and statutory deductions are borne directly by the employer.

However, in Berlin, the trend of freelance and agency workers has taken hold. Many companies prefer this sort of arrangement as opposed to full-time employees. Germany has a strict policy on employee welfare and labour laws to safeguard the working environment, workplace safety and regulations.

Oslo, as Norway is not part of the EU, has its own governing structure on labour regulations. Their culture and Jante law is the reference point of most business decisions. Norwegian are also thorough in their prior research, pre-prep and screening of potential employees. Once you get into the system, your future is safeguarded with laws protecting from arbitrary firing and dismissal.

Contractual Agreements

In London, when it comes to drawing agreements, it is considered prudent to have everything in black and white with lengthy contracts and contractual processes that safeguard the welfare of both parties in the business and working environment.

Comparatively, in Berlin, “a short contract is a good contract” as long as it covers the legal bases and the parties involved are well aware of the consequences of a breached contract and the laws that abide.

In Oslo, however, their general culture has a big influence on how they conduct business. They take time to go through the documents, do in-depth research and checks before making business decisions or having ink on paper.

Goodwille help businesses mainly from the Nordic and Germanic regions with expanding to the UK. Our extensive knowledge of working in the intersection of these cultures makes us a great partner when launching on the UK market. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you in the UK!

Three things to consider before joining the UK market

If your business has been successful in your home country and your services and products have also received some interest from UK consumers, congratulations! However, before setting up an office in a foreign country, ensure you consider all aspects. Here are three questions to ask yourself before entering the UK market.

What are your objectives and why the UK?

Goal setting and having clear objectives must be a priority for every business to be successful, but especially when entering a new market. You will need to know how your business is currently operating and ask yourself some key questions:

• What are my long-term and short-term goals?
• How does my business compare to others in the UK market?
• What are my business’ current profit margins?

Next, you need to ask yourself how the UK helps you achieve these. The final decision to open a UK office should hinge on how well it meets the key objectives of your overall business plan and not on specific factors in isolation such as tax, employment conditions and legal aspects.

Of course, while achieving business objectives is paramount, you also need to consider where in the UK would best meet your needs. While London may seem the obvious choice, other major cities such as Manchester, Aberdeen and Cambridge might pose specific benefits for your business’ skills niche or industry.

What type of entity do you need?

Deciding what business entity you will operate under is not to be taken lightly as it can have implications both in the short term and the long term, particularly with regards legal aspects such as paying tax, sharing out profits, making company decisions and liabilities.

The three most common ways foreign investors set up a UK company include:

I. Registering as a UK establishment – commonly referred to as a UK branch

II. Incorporating a UK subsidiary, where the most common is a private limited company

III. Incorporating a limited liability partnership

Finding the most suitable business entity may require expert help, and seeking advice from an expert can be very useful. An adviser with experience of helping companies setup in the UK can help you make the decision by asking all the relevant questions. Before you make the decision of the type of business entity, we recommend considering the below aspects with your adviser;

• The business’ nature and likelihood of prosperity in the UK
• The period you expect to be in the UK
• The challenges that you might face in establishing your business in the UK
• Administrative costs and disclosure requirements
• Tax implications

What legal implications will you face?

Next, you will have to deal with the legal side of things. The business entity you have chosen will determine your duties and responsibilities. In either case, you will have to register your business with Companies House and with HMRC, the UK tax Authority. In addition to this you will also have to factor in the necessary time for completing all the required registrations and paperwork before you can legally start trading in the UK.

Once you have considered the above and decided to enter the UK market, you will be in a position to enjoy the many benefits that the UK has to offer, including good infrastructure, specialist skills bases, a healthy business environment and a diverse yet skilled workforce. If you need advice on how to set up a UK company, you should speak to the experts at Goodwille. We can advice on the most suitable business entity to your business and your legal responsibilities in the UK. Read more about our Corporate Legal services or contact us today for more information.

How telephone answering services can improve client retention

When you open a new UK office, it’s clearly desirable to seek new prospects and clients, but it’s also extremely important to look after the customers you already have. But how can you guarantee a quick response to your clients’ calls throughout the working day when you are busy with meetings? And what about dealing with overseas customers or those in a totally different time zone? That’s where a good telephone answering service can help you.

Speaking with a real person

No matter how much information you provide for your clients on your website and regardless of how efficient you are at answering emails, people still prefer to speak directly to a human being when they have a query. A lack of response to their phone calls or merely getting through to a voicemail service or automatic message is a sure way of alienating, frustrating, and potentially losing those important existing customers.

A good live telephone answering service means that your existing customers can be confident of always getting through to a real person, 24/7. However, for a really good customer service experience to be provided, it’s important that your answering service staff have access to existing customer information and an understanding of likely queries relating to invoices etc. that may arise.

Why good customer service is so important for your existing clients

Obviously, customers who place regular orders for your goods or services are important when it comes to your monthly revenue. However, retaining them is also vital if your business is to thrive and grow.

Think about it; a poor customer service experience suffered by one client is likely to be passed on to their business contacts by way of a negative recommendation. Those people may then feed back this information to their own associates and suppliers, who in turn may do the same. Add to this the likes of Twitter, Facebook and the myriad other social media sites and forums used by businesses and you can see just how rapidly and extensively your business reputation could be damaged.

A well-informed, efficient live answering service could turn the above scenario completely on its head. Happy customers will tell their associates, and your business’ good reputation for looking after its clients will spread out like ripples across a pond. Because of this, you may find that new clients actually come to you, thus saving you the expense and hassle of extensive marketing campaigns, whilst your business continues to grow and thrive.

In conclusion

Employing a good live answering service is a sure way of keeping your existing clients happy and indirectly boosting your marketing activity and generating business for your new UK office. Can your business really afford not to have one? Goodwille offers telephone answering services as part of our Virtual Office service offering. Read more about how we can support your business in the UK and contact us today for more information.

UK Investment Support Directory

Goodwille is one of the best service providers to support inward investment to the UK!

Department for International Trade (DIT) launched the UK Investment Support Directory in May 2019, to help overseas businesses with finding the right support when setting up or expanding in the UK. We are honoured to announce that Goodwille is one of the UK specialist firms listed in the Directory as experts in helping foreign businesses establish on the UK market!

About the UK Investment Support Directory

The UK Investment Support Directory is a collection of companies with skills and experience in helping overseas businesses establish or expand in the UK. The Directory includes service providers carefully selected by DIT based on their experience and expertise in the UK marketplace.

The aim of the Directory is to provide a link between foreign businesses and local experts; it helps overseas businesses to find the most appropriate local support by listing UK service providers by industry and experience, all in one place. If you need specialist advice within a specific sector or with specific language skills, the Directory makes it easy for you to find British businesses with just the expertise and experience you are looking for!

Goodwille is in a good position to assist foreign businesses with navigating the UK market. We have over 20 years of experience helping businesses mainly from the Nordics to set up an run successful UK operations. With clients ranging from tech startups to retail chains, we are well equipped to support businesses in any sector.

On our Business Profile Page you can read more about the services we provide for overseas companies thinking about expanding to the UK, as well as some examples of companies we have helped to achieve UK success.

The full UK Investment Support Directory is accessible on DIT’s website.

Are you looking to set up or expand your business in the UK? Contact Goodwille today to hear more about how we have helped over 1,800 businesses set up and run a successful UK operation. We are happy to share our experience and help businesses from abroad off to a flying start in the UK!

The three leadership P’s that will help you set up a UK company

When you set up a UK company, you’ll want it to be successful. But the odds are against you. Five out ten of new businesses fail within their first couple of years. If you want to avoid that you need three things: a good product, great marketing and strong leadership.

Research has shown that poor leadership is one of the defining factors behind business failure. So here are three leadership traits you’ll need when you open a UK office for your new business to thrive (and survive!).

Passion

Whether you’re talking to customers, employees or suppliers, you’ll need passion to build your new business. Those who are passionate are more likely to convince others of the message they are passing on.

This can be vital in recruiting for your new startup, as you want new hires to believe in your product and sell it. Passion will also help you sell to new customers.

Persistence

Not everything you want to achieve will happen at the first ask. In fact, it may take time to collect sales and build contacts for your new UK company. If you give up early you’ll never succeed and that’s why you’ve got to keep going.

Persistence can be challenging when you’ve suffered a few set backs. If you are finding it hard to keep motivated, try making goals smaller. When you achieve smaller goals you’ll feel good about the work and this can boost your morale.

Patience

When you set up a new UK business you’ll have to be patient. You can’t expect the business to be successful straight away. Most businesses take time to start making a profit, especially if you’ve taken out substantial loans to finance your new venture.

Therefore, expect to take at least one or two years before you can start making your new UK business a success. That doesn’t mean that your small business can’t provide you with an income, but it will take time for your efforts to be rewarded with a significant return.

Time for your leadership to show

When you set up a UK business you’ll need strong leadership traits to make it a success. The more of the three traits you show above, the more successful you’ll be, and the faster that success will come.

If you want help to set up a UK business, then contact us at Goodwille. Businesses from across Europe, the US and the rest of the world have entrusted our expertise and experience in the UK market to start their UK operations. Now it is your turn.

Britain will always be open for business: Alexander’s 5 tips to secure UK success

This is an advertorial by Goodwille, originally posted in The Link Magazine April 2019 issued by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK. Read the magazine here.

Goodwille, a Patron of the Swedish Chamber, have been helping Swedish businesses with their expansion to the UK for over 20 years. Alexander Goodwille, who recently celebrated his second year as CEO, shares his top 5 tips to give you the best chance at UK success.

1. Pitching your products and services

No matter how many times you’ve successfully sold your products and services in your home country, your pitch needs to be tailored to meet local standards when you enter a new market. In some cases, a few minor tweaks to your content or format may be all that’s required. However, in some cases, a total overhaul might be necessary to reach your target market. When researching the UK market, be sure to look at potential changes to your pitching early so that you are well-prepared and not taken by surprise by cultural differences.

2. Build on previous successes

If your product or service has been successful in Sweden, there’s no reason to think that it will not achieve similar or even greater heights following your UK expansion. In fact, the more success you have had at ‘home’, the more likely you are to succeed in a new location. Remember that the UK market is highly competitive, so be sure to capitalise on your successful track record as it will make your UK pitch much stronger.

3. Choose the right location

The location that you choose for your new UK office is very important to your success. There are a number of factors to consider, including whether your business is sales or product driven. You must also research potential talent pools, since recruiting the right staff will be essential to the success of your new venture.

Ease of travel by road, rail and air are also important aspects of your location to consider, especially if you are intending to commute regularly from Sweden. Logistics are also important if you have a product to distribute, and locating your business somewhere central to the main motorway network may also be something that is important from both a practical and costings perspective.

There are often government grants available, designed to attract businesses to certain regions, so it can be worth looking at cities other than London.

4. Make sure you’re ready, not just wanting

International expansion is a noble goal, but you can’t hope to succeed unless your business is sorted at the local level. It’s not just about ensuring you have the funds to cover expansion either. Growing your business into new markets will take a lot of your time and focus. Unresolved problems in your local marketplace will inevitably interrupt your dedication and expansion plans. If the problems are serious, it could even hamper the success of your expansion, so make sure you have a firm footing before you leap.

5. Do your research & ask for help

It’s beyond important that you invest as much time as possible to understand your intended marketplace. It sounds obvious, but the expansion process can be easily stalled by unexpected issues.

Learn how the UK market operates and what it requires. Not only will it make your entry as seamless as possible, it will also give you the best possible chance to achieve success in the long run. Consider every aspect of your operation from supply, through delivery, and into customer aftercare.

Make sure you spend enough time in the UK and get to know the new market properly. Do not underestimate the importance of local partners, like Goodwille, that can guide you through local regulations and introduce you to the right people!

To find out more about how Goodwille can support you with your UK expansion, or existing UK operation, please contact me directly on alexander.goodwille@goodwille.com

Four lessons UK businesses could learn from the Nordics

The Nordic countries regularly top the world happiness indexes, while also sitting at the top of lists measuring economy and productivity. It’s no wonder, then, that businesses around the world tend to look for inspiration in the business cultures of countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. As you would expect, there are many subtle and not-so-subtle differences between cultures in these countries. However, there are some common themes that businesses in the UK looking to innovate may want to take note of.

Less hierarchy, more democracy

Nordic businesses tend to be arranged in flat structures, with little respect for rigid hierarchies or displays of power. Fundamental to business in these countries is the idea of trust. Employees trust managers to keep their best interests at heart, and managers trust employees to act independently and get on with the job. Decision making is done in a democratic manner. In Sweden in particular, everyone is expected to have their say in company meetings.

Communication is key

Following the reduced importance of hierarchy, lines of communication in Nordic businesses tend to be short, with colleagues always able to confer with management. This leads to a generally informal culture – employees are usually on first name terms with management, and socialising with fellow colleagues is expected. If your Danish business associate suggests you grab a beer after work, it really would be rude not to!

Ethics first

Nordic countries tend to have a strong sense of ethics, with a low tolerance for corruption and high regard for environmental issues. A downside of this is that reaching a decision can sometimes take a long time, as each employee’s take on a matter is valued and the ethical impact of each decision is carefully weighed.

Benefits and welfare

Nordic countries are famous for their excellent benefits and strong welfare systems. Sweden, for example, has one of the most generous parental leave policies in the world. All employees in Denmark are entitled to five weeks of annual leave. And in Norway, a policy of transparency regarding salaries has lead to narrow wage gaps and strong pay equality. Higher taxes supports the strong welfare systems to minimise the fear of employment gaps for those not in work. These benefits and the security of the welfare systems have lead to happier employees and, in turn, more productive companies.

Nordic values are increasingly influencing businesses world-wide, and businesses form the Nordic region are highly regarded in the UK especially. If you are a Nordic business thinking about expanding into the UK, you should speak to us. We have been helping Nordic businesses successfully launch in the UK for 20 years and would love to help you too! Contact Goodwille today to find out more how we can help you get started on the UK market.

Good Connections – Goodwille’s Partner Network Guide

We have built a strong partner network over the past 20 years. Our partner network consists of a broad range of businesses, specialists and advisers that share our mission to make business as smooth and enjoyable as possible, in the UK and beyond.

By joining Goodwille, you get access to our larger network who are supporting our existing clients outside of the services that Goodwille can provide you with. Our network partners are companies and experts that we know well and recommend for services related to setting up and growing your UK business.

To help our clients navigate our network, we have compiled a list of partners in a Partner Network Guide. The simple aim is to make it easier for our clients to find someone with the answers to their questions. Whether you need specialist legal advice, office space, or help with marketing or recruitment, you can be sure someone in our network can help you!

Already strong in the UK and looking at expanding to other markets? We have partners in our network that can help you! If you like the way Goodwille works with helping businesses in the UK and are looking for something similar for your continued international expansion – look no further! We have service providers we recommend that can help you in other European markets & the USA.

So whenever you are faced with a question about the UK market or international expansion – come to us! We are always happy to recommend or introduce you to any of our network partners that we know can help you. That’s what Good Connections are all about, and that’s why our network is such an integral part of our business.

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The best UK Market Entry Advice in 2019

The UK is a great place for business! Successful growing businesses from abroad often look to the UK when planning an international expansion; it’s a business-friendly environment with a strong talent pool and good access to capital. Where else could be a better place to grow your international business?

However, entering a new market require some planning and also, sometimes, some expert advice and support. Our friends at Rochester PR Group, a London-based PR agency specialised in market entry PR, have compiled the best UK Market Entry tips from leading market entry experts in the 2019 edition of their UK Market Entry Advice booklet.

With more than 20 years’ experience helping foreign businesses enter the UK market, Goodwille was asked to contribute with our best advice on how to succeed in the UK. These are the top Do’s and Don’ts that our CEO Alexander Goodwille thinks businesses should consider when launching in the UK;

Do

Focus on what is important to you, delegate everything else. Take specialist advice, especially in areas where you have no expertise or which are not core to your business growth.

Research your market and your competition. Find a niche and build from there.

Network. Tap into anywhere you can to get help – nothing works better than a personal introduction.

Don’t

Don’t make assumptions. What works at home may not work in the UK.

Don’t rush. Plan and budget – but if it’s new technology you need to be first to market.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to get agreements right, especially employee and supplier contracts.

Want more advice on how to maximise your chances of success when setting up a business in the UK? Download your copy of the 2019 edition of the Market Entry Advice Booklet here.

Goodwille has over 20 years’ experience helping businesses from abroad establish in the UK. Our services are designed to manage the practical aspect of setting up and running a UK operation, so you can focus on your core business! If you are considering the UK for your next international move, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

3 key questions: outsourcing vs. in-house

The question of whether to outsource or keep tasks in-house is something the vast majority of businesses face today. In most cases, businesses find there are many benefits that come from outsourcing certain jobs. However, it is all about knowing when it’s best to outsource and when it’s better to keep things in-house. This comes down to the three C’s, which are cost, competency, and capacity. By considering these three key factors, you should be able to determine whether to outsource a specific task or keep it in-house.

Cost

This is undoubtedly one of the key factors that needs to be considered; however, it is something that is often miscalculated. This is because most business owners tend to simply look at the initial outlay when it comes to outsourcing, and assume that it is way too expensive. It is important to look at the costs over an extended period of time – for example, over the course of a year, as this will give you a true reflection. The initial expense may be higher when it comes to outsourcing, but when you keep things in-house you have on-going salaries and the related expenses to contend with on a monthly basis. Also, by outsourcing you only pay for what you actually need for services needed on a temporary basis only. For permanent tasks, the in-house approach could be much more cost efficient.

Competency

Competency is the ability to do something efficiently or successfully. If you don’t have this ability at your business, it would be better to look elsewhere. Accountancy and IT support often fall under this banner. Unless you operate an IT business, you are not going to have the experience required to support your own software. This could mean extensive downtime, which could lead to lost customers and be detrimental to your reputation. Managed IT services for businesses mean that you can have the peace of mind that your IT systems are supported efficiently and ticking along nicely in the background, enabling you to focus on the core of your business, i.e. what you do best. However, if you have the competency to handle a task in-house, there is no reason to shift the responsibility elsewhere.

Capacity

Do you have the resources required to carry out the task in question in-house? Or are you going to stretch your business too far by attempting to handle this project? If you don’t have the capacity, you need to get help. This is especially important for small businesses and startups, as entrepreneurs tend to like handling everything themselves. However, it is simply not feasible when you consider the variety of tasks businesses need to handle that aren’t directly related to the core skills of their firm.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding the three C’s that should be considered when you are deciding whether to outsource a certain task or keep it in-house. By carefully assessing the cost, your competency, and your firm’s capacity, the decision should be a lot easier.

At Goodwille we think that businesses should stay focused on their core and what they do best. That’s why we offer advice and practical support on the activities needed to run your UK business but that might not be at the core of what you do. Get in touch with us today to find out how letting us take care of your non-core activities can help you stay focused and grow your business!