There are many benefits for companies that choose to branch out in to international markets but many refuse to take this step. This is a particular problem with SMEs who are often apprehensive about the resources and expertise that are required to start exporting. A YouGov poll found that only half of the SMEs questioned were planning on exporting in the coming 12 months.
With Brexit looming, exportation is going to be more important than ever before, not just for private companies but also the wider UK economy. The government is attempting to remedy this problem through their ‘Exporting is Great’ campaign, which encourages businesses both small and large to look beyond the British Isles. The truth is, exporting isn’t as scary as many people think and there is help out there for anyone looking to expand.
Why are companies reluctant?
There are many reasons why some companies won’t even consider selling abroad. One of the main issues cited by businesses, especially SMEs is risk. Many business owners fear that exporting is a risky move that could lead to wasted investment.
There can also be apprehension from companies that don’t want to bother with the logistics of selling overseas, whether that be regulations or cultural differences. This lack of experience and technical knowledge can often dissuade businesses from taking the first step.
Of course, we should point out that there are companies that are simply happy to remain within the UK and aren’t looking to expand their operations at the present moment.
What are the benefits?
There definitely seems to be lack of enthusiasm from UK businesses when it comes to exportation. However, there are so many benefits to selling overseas.
Obviously the main benefit is the chance to expand your customer base and therefore boost sales and profit. In fact, the ‘Exporting is Great’ organisation found that “85% of companies say that exporting has led to a level of growth not otherwise possible”. Ironically, although many business owners believe that exporting can be risky, it can actually greatly reduce risk overall. This is because businesses are tapping in to different markets as opposed to relying on one, meaning high demand in one location can make up for low demand in another.
Another benefit to exporting is the chance to boost your brand. Creating business links with other countries is a great way to forge a global identity. This is especially important within today’s market were business is becoming borderless and branding and reputation are vital.
Exporting also provides a unique experience which allows companies to get a much better understanding of the sector they are in. Marketing your product abroad often forces you to think in different ways and this may provide you with a unique perspective that can be utilised at home.
What help is out there?
You might be surprised to know that there is a wealth of support available for companies who are thinking about selling overseas.
Business owners can contact their local UKTI International Trade Advisor, who can help them with issues such as financial subsidises, documentation, contacts and e-commerce, as well as much more. These International Trade Teams can be found in offices across the country, meaning you are never too far from expert advice.
The government offers a range of programmes for companies who want to start exporting, including topics such as high value opportunities, e-exporting, tradeshow access, overseas market introductions and bidding for international aid agency projects.
Companies can also find support from ‘Exporting is GREAT’, which offers expertise for businesses at every level, whether you’re considering the first step or have been selling abroad for years. One such tool offered by this organisation is Open to Export which helps individuals in drawing up a detailed plan for the future.
The choice to start selling abroad can be a daunting one but the potential benefits are great and there so much help out there for anyone willing to take the plunge.