By Daniel Hunter

Companies of all sizes see overseas expansion as a key part of their forward growth strategy according to new Anatomy of an International Business research by international healthcare provider Expacare.

Nearly half (43%) the businesses questioned in the recent poll were either considering a move to trading overseas in the future or hoping to further strengthen their established international foothold.

In terms of motivation for this move, it would seem that the Government’s efforts to encourage UK businesses to consider moving overseas is finally getting through and businesses are increasingly seeing themselves as global businesses. The research found that over two fifths of businesses (44%) felt they wanted to play a part in a global market. Nearly a third (32%) also cited a reason for expansion being because one of their clients has an international presence and they want to support them.

Furthermore, over three fifths of SMEs (64%) said that they think that doing business overseas is set to become commonplace for businesses in the future, revealing a real appetite for operating in foreign marketplaces.

The research also examined which countries British businesses could see themselves moving to. Here, it was apparent that many (34%) were already making the most of EU rules which allow them to operate there. But businesses are also increasingly looking to spread their wings further afield with nearly four in ten (39%) hoping to move to Scandinavia and over a third (36%) are looking to capitalise on business opportunities in the emerging BRIC countries.

Businesses also tended to avoid certain countries overseas with four in ten (41%) saying that they would not operate in Switzerland, potentially deterred by the extremely strong currency which can push up the operating costs. In addition, nearly half of businesses said they would not consider doing business in South Africa (48%).

Despite an eagerness to set up shop overseas, businesses said they face a number of challenges if they are to achieve their goal. Three in ten (30%) said that a lack of knowledge of the country would be a key challenge and just over three in ten (32%) said that set up costs would make it an expensive process. A further fifth of respondents (20%) said that motivating and recruiting staff to go overseas was seen as the biggest obstacle.

As a result, the benefits package plays a crucial role in attracting and keeping staff motivated. In terms of core elements of the package, international businesses place higher importance on keeping their staff fit and healthy than companies operating solely in the UK. Nearly a third (32%) stating that when considering benefits packages for staff overseas, private health insurance was the most popular, ahead of share options (30%) and relocation allowance (24%).

“The research has shown that there is a firm trend for businesses to look beyond their borders in pursuit of growth, which is encouraging," Beverly Cook, Managing Director of Expacare, commented.

"It is fantastic that the UK Government is doing all that it can to encourage businesses to look into the opportunities in international markets which will undoubtedly provide a boost to the UK economy.

“When businesses are looking to move overseas it is also crucial that they look after their most important asset — their staff. It therefore makes especially pleasing reading to see that businesses see international private healthcare cover as a priority in their expansion process. This will ensure that employees have the right healthcare package in place so that they are not left vulnerable should the worst happen. Employers should check the small print as a once size fits all package won’t fit everyone, in particular those moving abroad need to consider their own health as well as their families when they relocate.”

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