Bill Bayliss: Scottish firms have what it takes to make it in the US

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MAKING it in the United States should be simple. Hundreds of Scottish firms will be crossing the Atlantic next week for the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston and many will have dreams of internationalisation.

But to really make our mark stateside, we must learn from our American business counterparts.

Scotland’s strength lies in the export of premium products, people and processes.

The North Sea region has been intrinsic to Scotland’s burgeoning exportation reputation, with Scottish Development International last year recording 37 per cent of Scotland’s exports to the US came from the oil and gas sector. Our prowess in this field should be celebrated.

Developing a North American presence can reap numerous benefits for Scottish business. Firms with ambitions of further global expansion can make the swift transition to neighbouring markets. Furthermore, companies are then well positioned to develop their skill sets and can target small and medium-sized enterprises for potential merger and acquisitions.

When Scottish-based companies invest time, money and resources in the US, they are effectively investing back into Scotland. The US pours the highest amount of inward investment into the Scottish economy and this can only continue if Scottish businesses make the effort to travel across the Atlantic. Scotland is considered to be an incubator of innovation and our reputation precedes us.

The key to unlocking American business success is knowing your target market. Having the right products or services that fit the requirements of the US marketplace may seem obvious, but Scottish firms have misfired in the past and, as a result, have been unable to make the desired impact.

Scottish entrepreneurs Andrew Carnegie, David Dunbar Buick and John McAdam boldly entered the American business arena with confidence. Following in the footsteps of these pioneers will only cultivate the flourishing connection between the two nations.

• Bill Bayliss is chief executive of offshore support company Viking SeaTech, which will be exhibiting at OTC.