By Ben Simmons

Research carried out by RSM Tenon has shown that around 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs are looking to expand overseas in 2012.

The research, entitled ‘Lonely at the Top: The entrepreneurial challenge’, surveyed the UK’s leading entrepreneurs about the different challenges and issues they face in today’s entrepreneurial Britain. Entrepreneurs taking part in the research included Will King, Founder and CEO of King of Shaves, and John Timpson, Chairman of the Timpson Group.

Despite around two-thirds of the respondents looking to grow their business by more than ten per cent (and one in five planning to expand by at least 25%) only 31% said that expansion into new geographic markets would be a priority for 2012.

However, despite their seeming hesitancy over developing overseas markets, just under a third said that increasing international opportunities was a significant factor in bringing an improvement for entrepreneurship in the UK.

“It’s disappointing that more UK entrepreneurs aren’t looking to develop their overseas markets,” commented Philip Coleman, RSM Tenon’s Head of International Business Development. “Despite the on-going difficulties with the economy in Europe, I think that there are some really promising opportunities for UK companies at the moment. If entrepreneurs are prepared to look beyond the crisis and prepared to stay in for the long-term, then there could be some good rewards to be had.”

Of those that were looking overseas as a main source of growth in 2012, four out of five said that they would be looking to do this within Europe, closely followed by Asia at 62%.

The findings of the report follow research from UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) that shows that there are far more SMEs which could export than currently do. As part of UKTI’s ‘National Challenge: Exporting for Growth’ initiative, RSM Tenon is working alongside UKTI to identify opportunity to drive up the number of SMEs who currently export overseas and therefore contribute to the growth of the UK economy.

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