Top tips for companies in the United Kingdom

Culture

  • Be polite

The British attach great value to social conventions and are much less direct than the Dutch. Make allowances for this by arriving on time and respecting hierarchy. It is also considered polite to say ‘please’ when asking for something.

  • Engage in small talk

Do not try to get straight to the point. First make small talk about, for example, the weather or sports. Do not talk about money or personal matters.

  • Maintain your network

Invest in building and maintaining relationships. Be aware that this takes time!

  • Know how to interpret what the British say

The British are much less direct than the Dutch and do not always say what they actually think. ‘That’s nice’, for example, usually means that they are not particularly impressed. The British do not readily give yes and no answers.

  • Prepare meetings carefully

The British like it if you can express yourself in proper English. You should take time to prepare for meetings to ensure you come across professionally. During a meeting make sure to note down any comments or questions asked.

Doing business in the UK

  • Visit the UK

To get a good understanding of your specific market, visit a UK trade fair. There are several of these each year for almost every sector, spread over the whole of the UK. Contact one of our sector specialists for advice about trade fairs that may be relevant to you.

  • Set up an English-language website

If you have made contact with potential UK partners they will probably visit your company online. Make sure that you have a professionally-translated English-language website.

  • To successfully expand internationally you need a sound base in the Netherlands

Whether you want to grow in the United States, Germany or the UK, expanding abroad always requires an investment of both time and money. Make sure your company has a good base in the Netherlands so you can afford to make this investment.

  • Persistence pays off

Do not immediately give up if you do not get instant results or fail to secure contacts from your visit to the UK. Go to the same fair or event again the following year; you will find that people remember you. Often you will only see results after several visits.

  • Be patient in negotiations

The British like to take their time during negotiations and do not like to be put under pressure.

  • Trade associations

The UK has one or more trade associations for virtually every sector. These organisations can provide you with the latest news, market reports and contact details of members. Our sector specialists will be pleased to help you to find the right contacts within the trade assosciations.

Geography

  • There is more to the UK than just England ...

The UK is made up of four separate countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Knowing and understanding the differences between them is important. The Scots, for example, do not like being called ‘English’. There is also strong rivalry between the countries in sports.

  • ... and there is more to the UK than just London

The UK is very much more than London alone. If you want to do business in the UK you may find another city a better alternative, depending on what your product or service is. Check to see if there is a city or region that might offer a better start for your business. Look at the regional information page for inspiration.