When we think of overseas trade, we tend to associate that world with larger companies equipped with thousands of staff, warehouses and factories across the country. But it's a common misconception that is denying so many smaller businesses from pursuing their full export potential.The UK government is urging businesses to pursue overseas trade and has set out its Export Strategy, heralding an increase in support and encouragement from the wider political presence.
What’s more, with such palpable uncertainty plaguing the domestic economy, broadening the scope of your business will reduce your reliance on a single domestic market, and help you become more competitive domestically.
Commerce today is borderless thanks to the digital economy which is driving wider economic growth and trade, specifically e-commerce.
The role of technology is of course, pinnacle. It enables us to overcome barriers such as culture, language and disparate time zones which might've caused complications previously. Technology enhancements mean we are able to track in real time and, access to global media means we now have better grasp of how cultural and communicative barriers are overcome.
Worldwide, there are 2 billion internet users in 200 countries. 100 million of those speak English. So if you've been thinking about export for a while, now might be the time to start exploring additional countries and broadening your trading scope.
Besides growing your business globally, the merits of export are abundant. Making the decision to export enables you to take advantage of improvements in trade finance and trade agreements that will increase access to worldwide markets, as well as changing patterns in economic growth. Therefore, protecting yourself against domestic political and economic downturns.
And of course, products of British heritage are incredibly desirable overseas since they are associated with prestige and known for their quality. Research conducted by Barclays Corporate Banking revealed that 64% of consumers in India, 57% in China, and 48% in the UAE are prepared to pay more for goods produced in the UK. Trends and perceptions such as this can be used to your advantage before beginning your export venture. Take the time to tap into the minds of your potential audiences.
Barriers to export
The Institute of Export and International Trade has conducted research that shows UK SME's are sceptical about export opportunities.
The barriers to export will be different depending on your level of experience in the field. But the HM Government's Export Strategy has set out initiatives to try and tackle the most common barriers, for example:
- Access to finance: ensuring no viable UK export fails due to lack of finance for the private sector
- Limited contacts: connecting UK businesses to overseas buyers, markets and each other
- Lack of capacity and capability: helping businesses access the right information, advice and practical assistance
- Attitudinal barriers : Encouraging and inspiring businesses than can export to do so
To ensure you bridge the gap between investment and reward during those initial stages of your export journey, calling in the correct financial advice, and managing financial risk such as currency risk and cashflow delays will help mitigate any potential pitfalls. It's also important to spend those initial months building up relationships with suppliers and buyers. Trust is so important in exporting terms but will take some time and consistency to build long-standing relationships.
It's also crucial you aware of the documentation requirements and processes for your export country of choice, since these can vary.
Every Chamber of Commerce within the UK will offer support to small, medium and larger businesses in relation to Export documentation and strategy. Our export departments are highly experienced and happy to offer advice or guidance to those who are nervous about taking the jump.
No business is too small to trade overseas, and most of the barriers are easily overcome. So, if the only thing holding you back is fear, it could be time to take a leap of faith. If your business is serious about growth, exporting could be right for you.