November 24 ,2014 | by Hari Sri

UKTI calls for greater export focus for SMEs

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UK Trade & Investment held its sixth Export Week attracting thousands of business owners to over 70 events across the country.

As we’ve often said, small businesses are a driver of growth and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) must know this too as it recently held its sixth annual Export Week. During the week over 70 varied events was held all across the country to offer support and advice for companies looking to export.

To aid in this endeavour, a new guide for first-time exporters was published to help assuage fears and make the process of exporting easy to follow.

British small businesses can gain a multitude of benefits by exporting such as tapping into markets otherwise unavailable to them.

Exporting makes us stronger

Having a diverse market of customers available can help businesses grow and makes them more able to remain afloat in times of economic strife, but not only that, it also stokes the engine of the economy.

In an interview with Insider, Dominic Jermey, the UKTI chief executive, points out that businesses who export are “more profitable, more productive, more innovative, grow faster and are more likely to survive any economic downturn than those that don’t”.

“It is not just the company’s future that rests on doing business abroad but the country’s”, he added.

However, current data shows that Britain’s trade deficit continues to disappoint as the UK continues to import way more than it exports and it may struggle to hit its 2020 target of £1 trillion worth of exports.

Female owned companies should export more

This year, Export Week focused on women-led businesses and held several special events designed to help the female entrepreneur.

Speaking at one of Export Week’s flagship events, Lord Livingston, the trade minister, said the number of women setting up businesses has doubled when compared to a few years ago.

So far, UKTI has helped many more companies receive government export support, but Lord Livingston points out that “only one in 10 of these firms are women-led”.

“By offering dedicated events, support and our introductory guide, we will make UKTI’s services more engaging and accessible to female businesses and help create new exporters who can take Britain’s great products and services to the world”, he added.

Tips for first time exporters

Many businesses prefer to focus on the risk of exporting instead of the international boost businesses can gain. In an article for This Is Money, Hazel O’Boyle, an international trade adviser at UKTI, highlights a number of tips aimed to help those looking to export for the first time.

First you must “understand the value of your product or service” in order to discern how it would benefit your overseas customer. An export strategy should be developed and should mesh with your existing business plan, looking at how they would run together.

Market selection comes next and is followed by market research. With those in mind a route to market entry should be established.

Research the cultural and linguistic differences of the target market so to avoid committing a faux pas. Secure your intellectual property and check it is protected outside the UK. Aim to establish a bank of expertise and seek help offered by the likes of UKTI’s Export Week.

Before starting to export, confirm you can deliver on your promises. Perhaps most importantly, remember to consider the bigger picture and how you fit into it.

Hari Sri

Hari is the LSBF Blog's News Editor. He manages the editorial content on the blog and writes about current affairs, SME, entrepreneurship, energy, education and emerging market news.

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