[LARA MORGAN] I think many SMEs are missing a trick with the huge opportunities to export and that perhaps they simply lack the balls to grow beyond these shores.
Too few British companies have the ambition and gumption to take their companies international. For some it might simply be ignorance but more often it’s a fear of failure.
In many cases margins are better, the orders are bigger and the financial boost can help them improve their company stability at home.
Export companies attract better staff, have higher retention rates and show greater resilience in tough times. What is not to like about that?
Companies who export, improve skill sets of their teams to aid fast growth acceleration and I have seen huge cultural knock-on effects, not to mention the amazing experiences I’ve had building a company exporting to 75 countries by the age of 35.
[ROBERT ALDOUS] Having left the military and googled ‘how to make a sports bag’, I found myself speaking to three promotional bags companies about my idea of making a modular, durable sports bag that would be for triathletes, runners, swimmers and cyclists.
I had a clear idea in my head but much to the annoyance of some, couldn’t quite explain the concept. I had a very rough sketch and the outline of a plan, along with a set of three bags mocked up from a factory in Eastern Europe as I trawled the small business events in London in Autumn 2014.
Having circled a couple of inspiring business people who were presenting in the StartUp Business Show in London Olympia just 3 months after having the ‘bag idea’, I noticed that one of the individuals, a lady named Lara Morgan, already owned a bag company and was a triathlete/cyclist.
A perfect fit? I was late due to traffic and a previous meeting had overrun, but I managed to squeeze in through the crowd as Lara was wrapping up…
“Are there any final questions before I finish?”, she said, as I pushed my way through the 500 strong audience.
Throwing my hand up in the air, Lara spotted me (not having a question to ask at this stage!), “ You – bald guy at the back!”
I had to make up a question fast and missed the ‘bald’ comment completely, which I would later learn is just another endearing part of Lara’s charm and character being a no-nonsense, direct business professional.
I asked a question about when to bring manufacturing in-house but it got me to explain what I was trying to build.
I managed to convey to Lara that I wanted to make a ‘bag’ for ‘triathletes and cyclists’…two things I knew would strike a chord. She listened, paused, asked if I could stay behind to talk about it. I was in!
24 hours later Lara Morgan was a part Shareholder in KiTBRiX and I was off to China within the month to perfect my pretty ropey sample.
2 years later, we are in over 10 countries and have sold over 8000 bags across the globe…”
[LARA MORGAN] I went to InterBike in Las Vegas in September 2014, along with Kitbrix, one of my new investments, who chose an Expo in the desert over the Leisure Show in not too sunny Birmingham.
A growth hungry guy, Robert Aldous, bit the bullet and improvised with his limited budget. He invested the same amount of money he’d set aside for a show stand, and made sure it was portable so he could have a presence at this significant show.
The result was that Robert Aldous, who barely had a sample less than 12 months before, now had offers in a number of territories. He was exporting his innovative, British designed, military inspired genius sports organiser system within the first year of product trading, to seven countries around the globe with more in discussion.
Robert’s growth will be meteoric. He is likely to be taken more seriously by banks, he has larger shipment volumes and he is being taken more seriously by promotional opportunities which he could not have financed had he not gained pro-forma, paid for orders for container loads of goods which are nearly on the water eight weeks after show time.”
Take a look at his website kitbrix.co.uk
Lara Morgan is best known for growing Pacific Direct, from start-up to successful exit, 23 years later. She now invests her time in fast growth companies and represents UKTI as an Export Ambassador, having previously exported to 110 countries. Her vast experience and business knowledge includes specialisms in licensing luxury brands, manufacturing toiletries and selling to the hospitality environment through complex global distribution chains. She's also an expert in leadership and developing talent having learnt through her own experiences of employing 500 employees in an open fast growth sales culture.