Small Business Saturday Blog

Exporting - not just for the big!

Wednesday, May 09, 2018 at 13:26

Exporting. It sounds big. Freight containers,customs, overseas buyers and the unknown. It all sounds daunting and expensive.Little wonder only 11% of UK businesses sell outside the UK.  Why would you do it when it takes so muchtime and effort? Why not just do more business here at home?
Because there are huge opportunities for small businesses too!
Here’s theskinny. Research shows that exporting not only makes your business more productive,innovative and profitable, but it can also make it more resilient to downturns*.That’s because accessing new markets allows you to generate new sources ofrevenue, new opportunities and new challenges. It also allows a business tomaximise its production capability, generates jobs and helps keep a surplus in the UK’s balance of trade – all of which contributes to ahealthier economy.
Admittedly exportingisn’t for everyone. You need to be ready, willing and able. Even then itdoesn’t come without its challenges. You might need to modify your product orpackaging, you’ll have to identify the best route to market and perhaps adaptto new distributions channels. You might also need new quality accreditations.
The following also represents some of the big things to get in placebefore you start:
Exporting will have an impact on your time andcapital, so making sure these are available is vital. Ideally you’ll alreadyhave a budget that can be allocated to export-led growth activities, but chancesare as an SME you’ll need to find an additional source of finance. Optionsinclude grant funding, equity finance (seed investment, angel investment andventure capital), debt finance (business loans), trade and cash flow finance(letter of credit, bank guarantees, performance bonds, invoice and purchaseorder finance), tax credits and crowdfunding.
Plans and research
Failing to plan is planning to ….yes, we allknow the saying… but it’s important:
i. Make sure you have a solid businessplan
ii. Prioritise your export markets - it’sone of the first steps to developing a successful export strategy. It meansdoing a proper market selection study so you can focus your resources onmarkets most likely to give you the strongest return.
iii. Finally, once you’ve identifiedyour target market, you need to research and analyse it. Look at your competitors, business challenges and your company’scompetitive differentiators. Your market research should contain your best andmost clear description of the current state of the marketplace you aretargeting.
Finding customers
This can be one of the most challenging aspectsof exporting. It involves trawling business directories and lists of exhibitorsat relevant trade shows, as well as going to trade shows and networking events.
There’s a lot to do, but you can get advice from yourbank, accountant or lawyer or your local Chambers of Commerce. The Department forInternational Trade (DIT) can also help with all of it. DIT has a dedicatedteam of International Trade Advisers (ITAs) who will help you throughout your export journey. Fromhelping with your export strategy through to pointing you in the direction ofkey market and sector information. They’ll help you find overseas partners, understande-commerce and even sometimes help with the cost of exporting by giving accessto funding.
Exportingis definitely a journey. It’s a way to grow and strengthen your business. Butit’s not something you have to do on your own. In fact, the more help you canget, the better.
Marco Simon is anInternational Trade Adviser (ITA) for The Department for International TradeEast of England office. Find out about how an ITA in your region could help youby contacting your regional DIToffice
*Source: Harris, R., Li, Q.C.(2007)


Latest Posts: