I recently met Christine Hancock, an International Trade Advisor for the Department for International Trade (DIT), at a seminar in Birmingham. Christine gave a presentation to small business owners and those on the brink of starting their own businesses, on the benefits of exporting. I asked Christine if she would provide information on this topic for us to share with our audience. In the context of Brexit and the uncertain times that businesses face, this information is sure to make you think about all of your options when you are building the foundations for the future of your business.
"The UK market might seem big enough for your business but thinking bigger pays off. 85% of companies say exporting has led to a level of growth not otherwise possible. Here are 10 reasons to expand your business horizons and look for new customers overseas as well as in the UK.
Reach more customers: There are lots of customers overseas so why restrict your market? Borders needn’t be barriers and more customers mean greater profits.
Technological evolution: Rapid improvements in technology make our world an ever smaller and increasingly accessible marketplace with e-commerce providing much greater connectivity. The internet and email are now the norm for people and businesses to communicate and source information. It is easier for any business to trade overseas. But we're ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to e-commerce, and that gives you a competitive edge for a while.
Spreading risk: Exporting spreads financial and business risk by widening your footprint and sales across a larger range of markets and customers in different countries.
Reduce seasonality: Exporting evens out seasonal demand by allowing you to provide your products and services to accommodate needs. You can create a sales schedule to maximise opportunities in seasonal markets.
Increase productivity, efficiency and profits: Research shows that exporting is great for businesses of all sizes. It makes them more productive, innovative and resilient to economic downturn, achieving a stronger bottom line, enhancing reputation and profile and ultimately making them more likely to stay in business.
Extend your product lifecycle: Exporting can enhance cash flow and sustainability – an extended range of markets offering an increased number of contracts and clients with subsequent financial benefits. It can also extend the product lifecycle – by catering for the needs of different clients in different parts of the world over a longer timespan.
Get a competitive advantage: Exporting helps you to keep pace with your competitors – some of them will undoubtedly be trading overseas – even though you may not know it - and benefiting from doing so.
Encourage innovation: Exporting drives innovation in your products and services as you discover and implement new ideas and opportunities to meet the needs of clients in different countries.
British products are in demand: Exporting can exploit the fact that Brand Britain is in big demand. Around the world, British products are seen to represent quality and luxury and particularly in high-end fashion labels that trade on their ‘Britishness’.
Support is available: Lots of the costs and difficulties associated with exporting have been made cheaper and easier in the last few years: translation of materials, travel, finding and contacting people, documentation. And there's lots of support and advice available from the Department for International Trade.
For all of the reasons above, it’s a good idea to consider exporting – it benefits not only your business but the whole of UK plc through you contributing directly to an improved economic performance by the nation.
Yes, there are obviously challenges and issues when exporting but, for many, selling overseas is just a bit different, not necessarily that difficult. It can be as easy as putting a product in a packet and posting it to someone in another country or for businesses with non-physical products, just selling a licence or sticking an attachment to an email.
So the potential for UK businesses to reach new customers and potentially lucrative new markets beyond the UK has never been greater.
DIT and our partner organisations remain determined to help local companies succeed globally. We’re working with thousands of companies across the UK to do just that and are here to help many more.
The world has become an open door and every UK business should be pushing on it.
Find your local DIT office by typing your postcode here and get in touch. We will be happy to help."
The DIT has 12 offices across the UK. Contact them to discuss your options. It's like they say, "The demand is out there. You should be too."
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