Get On Your Bike
When is the best time to get on your bike and search for overseas clients?
For us, at First Point Group, it was day 1. Our very first client was based in Algeria. In fact, it was a number of years before we even had a UK based client. It was six years before we had regular UK business. Today, over 90% of our Net Fee Income is generated from business outside the UK.
While working overseas does come with its own set of problems, it has certainly worked well for us. Our mantra has been “if it was easy anyone could do it”. It’s not easy but overcoming the challenges make it all the more satisfying. In a mature market like the UK, competition is fierce and this squeezes margins. So whilst it can be tricky negotiating the pitfalls of working across multiple regions it does pay to make the effort. Of course the ideal would be to have a perfect balance, however life rarely works to a plan, so you just need to make the most of the opportunities.
Our initial strategy was to be open to do business in any country and barring sanctions and wars we still do. Today, we have consultants deployed in over 100 countries at any one time. To date, we’ve worked in 150 countries (don’t ask me to name them all!)
Whilst a lot can be achieved from our London HQ and it is well suited for as a base. Nothing beats boots on the ground to establish a truly international business.
Stage two of our strategy has been to get our people out into the regions and open local offices. Four years after we started business in 2008, two of our now regional directors, Miguel and Luay, got on their bikes and went to Mexico and Dubai to set up offices. I am glad to say it was a success in more ways than one. They have settled down, literally, as both are now married with children, and have built thriving teams. Having local offices staffed with local people has given us a better understanding of these regions, benefitting not only our business but also the service to our clients and consultants. This continued and in 2015 FPG have plans for three more offices all in new markets. All in locations where we currently do business, localising once again will enhance our competitive advantage and help us give a higher standard of service to clients and candidates. 11 offices in 11 years of trading.
It never gets easier, but I would certainly recommend getting on your bike. International business and organic internal growth have definitely worked for us.