It’s a common misconception that exporting is only for large companies with thousands of staff, but the truth is no business is too small to trade overseas.
Making the decision to export can offer significant benefits for your small business. On average, companies that export grow quicker, make more sales and employ more people. It increases your access to worldwide markets and protects your business against domestic political and economic downturns. Plus, products of British heritage are really desirable overseas since they are known for their quality.
Yet, if you have no experience of exporting, taking those first steps can be daunting. But if you're serious about growth, exporting could be the right decision for you.
The good news is there’s lots of free advice out there for businesses looking to export. We’ve compiled a list of the best places to obtain this free information to help you with your export journey.
For many businesses considering exporting abroad, the UK Government website is often the first port of call. It provides comprehensive overviews of exporting and doing business abroad as well as specific guidelines on export finance, commodity codes, reporting and licences. It also contains useful information about getting your business ready to export from the UK to the EU after Brexit.
Open to Export
The Open to Export website is a free online service from The Institute of Export and International Trade and is dedicated to helping small UK businesses get ready to export and expand internationally. It offers step-by-step guides covering the whole export journey, from selecting a market to delivery and documentation, as well as a comprehensive webinar programme covering all aspects of international trade.
You can also sign up to start your own Export Action Plan. This intuitive tool takes you through five key steps to export success and results in an action plan you can take to your bank, business advisor or international trade advisor.
The Department for International Trade (DIT)
The Department for International Trade (DIT) have developed the website Exporting Is Great as part of their remit to help businesses export and grow into global markets. The website offers tailored support and advice for businesses looking to start exporting or increase the amount of goods and services they sell overseas.
The advice they offer covers creating an export plan, finding an export market, choosing a route to market, export finance and payment management, as well as guidance on how to prepare to do business in a foreign country and how to manage the risk of bribery and corruption.
Their comprehensive market guides are a particularly helpful source of information, offering key stats and regulations specific to the market you’re looking to export to. They also provide insight into where the best opportunities lie in those countries, whether it’s oil and gas, healthcare, engineering, renewables or food and drink so that you can find the best fit market for your business.
You can also set up your own business profile, giving companies looking to buy from your industry an easy way to find you.
Start Up Overseas
Start Up Overseas is an online resource designed to help companies start or expand their business abroad. Businesses can use the site to source both information and service providers in over 60 countries.
The Country Guides give country specific information documenting the essential information needed to expand your business in a foreign market. The Experts section provides contact details of individuals in different countries and different specialisms who can help you with your export and expansion needs. There is also a useful library of real life case studies where you can read and learn from others’ experiences.
UK Export Finance
UK Export Finance (UKEF) is a government department and the UK’s export credit agency. Working alongside the Department of International Trade (DIT) they support exports for any size of company and across all sectors.
UKEF can help UK companies to win export contracts by providing attractive financing terms to their buyers, fulfil contracts by supporting working capital loans, and get paid by insuring against buyer default.
It’s also a useful source for finding export finance managers acting as regional representatives of UKEF, who can be valuable contacts for exporters and businesses with export potential. Speaking to an export finance manager will help you get a better understanding of your export finance requirements and, where possible, they’ll identify an appropriate solution to support your export transactions.
UKEF’s website is also a useful hub for learning about finances, insurances and contracts, as well as for keeping up to date with export trends around the world.
Exporting - advice from the banks
Businesses often report difficulty in accessing trade finance or credit insurance from lenders - products tailored specifically to support firms trading in overseas markets.
To help businesses, the ICAEW have developed a helpful guide with exporting advice from UK banks. The guide outlines the products and services offered by the biggest UK banks including Barclays, RBS and Natwest, Santander, HSBC and Lloyds Bank. The guide also includes contact details and links to more information on each of the banks’ offerings.
Your local Chamber of Commerce
Part of the role of a local Chamber of Commerce is to support and guide their members in the decision to export. They can offer knowledge of potential new markets, advise on risks, and give best practice advice on documentation.
Whether you are planning to export for the first time, or are expanding your existing activities, the Bedfordshire Chamber’s Global Services team can offer practical advice and assistance to ensure error free exporting and prompt receipt of payments.
We have a large network of regional, national and international partners offering market research services, overseas visits, export documentation advice, export training and interpretation services. We also regularly host workshops and training courses for our members to take advantage of.
For non members, we also regularly blog around the topic of exporting, including how to overcome challenges, general advice including around documentation, and guides for exporting in specific countries.
You may find some of our recent blog posts useful:
- Common obstacles to export and how to overcome them
- What are the export documents I need?
- Export 101 - What not to do
To speak to the Chamber about how we could help you with your export strategy and documentation, get in touch with Paula today.