Ruth Inglis - Head of Sales & Marketing, Titania
Titania Ltd won the Small Business of the Year award at the Chamber Awards 2014. Ruth Inglis, Head of Sales & Marketing at Titania, talks about cybersecurity sector exports.
Titania: The Small Business That Could
The cybersecurity sector is one of the fastest growing in UK currently. In 2013, a comprehensive analysis performed by Pierre Audoin Consultants emphasised the export potential for the industry, with international sales accounting for around 20% of the market.
Last year, the MoD (Ministry of Defence) announced in a feature post that cybersecurity strategy will be the UK’s next big export, but small businesses are sometimes excluded from the global trade scene. However, the same report specifies that it is not only large suppliers that set their sights on international markets. To prove this provides an example: a Worcester-based supplier of cyber security auditing software that makes almost 90% of its revenue outside of the UK.
Cybersecurity, export and small businesses; together they require a specialised strategy and would seem difficult to imagine a viable business model. However for Titania, the company that took home the “Small Business of the Year” at the BCC awards, it has accumulated in a compelling story of success. Furthermore just weeks earlier the company was handed the “Export” award from the Birmingham Post and Ian Whiting (Titania CEO) received the “Personal Contribution to IT” accolade from Computing Security Awards.
Titania took on these three challenges and excelled on each account, proving to small businesses and start-ups in the cybersecurity industry, global markets should not be an elusive dream.
You don’t have to do it all on your own
Whatever stage of business you find yourself at, advice and support is there. Time is precious and resources stretched in a start-up company. Yet in time, a couple of hours a week, researching different types of funding and government support available can go a long way. More often than not, your local Chamber can be the first point of contact, but trade bodies and government portals are also a good place to start.
Tackling the potential of export as a small business is a daunting challenge. It is difficult even for large businesses. Remember the government does want you to succeed and boost the economy so connecting with local political representatives and attending networking events can often translate into information and solutions. Business people will understand the struggle and point you in the right direction for some obscure funding opportunities, or connect you to people that may have a solution. Political figures can listen and provide feedback to legislators and policy-makers.
Various government departments provide assistance for specific business issues. For Titania, UKTI has provided invaluable support in reaching overseas audiences through UK-based trade events. Later, it facilitated a joint delegation with 11 other small businesses to accompany the Prime Minister on his visit to Washington, in an initiative to promote UK-US commercial relationships.
Yet the export prospect can be a daunting one even once you get some subsidisation and support. Small businesses sometimes struggle to have their interests best represented ahead of government and independent voices can get lost. As such, joining a cluster brings together businesses aligned to similar goals and speaks with one, stronger voice when addressing challenges to policy-makers.
Industry bodies can prove helpful, in offering a mission statement, business support, or listening to business problems and communicating them across the political spectrum, or addressing education institutions in closing skill gaps.
Share your achievements
Sometimes you can find yourself in the position of having achieved a milestone, or a success. But you may not want to talk about it, because you are leading a team of two and you’ll get drowned in the noise of huge corporate press releases that go out on a daily basis. Who will listen to your success? People do listen. It is a refreshing change from the usual corporate statements to see a company succeeding.
It can turn into a virtuous circle- the more others hear of your success, the more likely it is to develop new relationships and leverage current ones.
Through an accumulation of publicity, when Titania opened newly-acquired headquarters, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for the cyber security portfolio, Francis Maude agreed to inaugurate the offices. Then Ian Whiting was asked to speak at the Cyber Security Strategy. After this Francis Maude recalled his visit to Titania and expressed his admiration towards “how many countries this relatively small company was selling its products to” in the House of Commons. The mention of cybersecurity, in the House statements is a good indicator of how critical this industry has become. That the Government is including small business in its discourse, is more than ever essential to Britain’s economy.
All views expressed in guest blogs are that of the authors, and not of the British Chambers of Commerce.