Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) leaders are expressing optimism about their global operations, with a majority ready to leverage disruptions as opportunities for commercial growth domestically and globally, according to a survey by Kreston Global. 

Despite concerns of geopolitical disruption and a slowdown in global GDP, an overwhelming 96% of SME leaders surveyed by Kreston Global believe that global expansion has positively impacted their business.  

The Kreston Interpreneur Report, now in its second edition, surveyed 1,400 business leaders from 14 countries, all helming organisations with revenues up to £300m ($382m) and with a track record of successful international growth. 

The survey highlights that increased sales and revenue (53%) and profitability (46%) are the primary benefits realised from global expansion.  

This sentiment is particularly strong in the UK, where 78% of respondents anticipate more businesses will venture overseas in the next year, with 25% expecting a significant increase and 53% foreseeing a moderate rise. 

Western Europe, including the UK, Germany, and France, is the preferred expansion destination for 52% of the respondents, with Eastern Europe, including Poland, Hungary, and Romania, following closely behind.  

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In the UK, market growth opportunities are the main driver for international expansion for 46% of the interpreneurs.  

Competitive advantage and market foothold are also significant motivators, with 32% and 31% of respondents, respectively, citing these factors.  

According to the report, the UK was found to be one of the “least likely” countries where interpreneurs consider private investors and venture capital, mainly due to being “fairly even spread” across different options. 

UK interpreneurs show a diverse approach to funding, with private investors and employee equity schemes both considered by 35% of respondents. 

However, UK businesses face challenges in international expansion, with 42% finding compliance requirements such as ESG and legal compliance to be the most complex.  

Other hurdles include adapting logistics and supply chains and managing economic volatility, each highlighted by 39% of respondents, and establishing reliable local partnerships by 34% of respondents. 

Kreston Global chair Rich Howard said: “It is encouraging that most interpreneurs in this survey do not see overseas expansion slowing down any time soon. There is still a clear appetite for accessing and expanding into new markets as well as international collaboration.”