Eight valuable lessons for exporters in 2015

If you’ve created a successful business in the UK, exporting can be a logical next step. But it can also provide challenges. Five successful exporters offer advice on how to expand overseas

1. Start close to home
“Having an in-country presence is a way of overcoming what I see as the biggest obstacle to becoming a more committed exporter: the time, expense and frustration involved in managing international deliveries. I’m looking into the possibility of setting up a distribution hub in Ireland – it’s a good market for us, English speaking and close to home.”

Julia Lowe, founder of Farm Toys Online

2. Have good people on the ground
“In your home territory, your people are core to the success of your business; they know the business model and the culture inside out. It’s that business model and culture you want planted around the world. You will do better in overseas markets with your own people planted there than you will by finding a top headhunter to recruit top local talent.”

Simon McMurtrie, CEO of Direct Wines

3. Think big…
“Working for large international companies has boosted our revenue and helped us to grow. If you’re going to target large organisations, understand their needs and make sure you’re able to fulfil them. But consider the implications for your cashflow if a larger business is likely to require longer credit terms.”

Patrick Beacom, founder of Inter-Com Translations

4. …But be realistic
“When you look at new markets, you make projections around the potential of that market and they are always enormous. Halve them and make sure your expectations are realistic; then everyone will be utterly delighted when you exceed those expectations.”

Simon McMurtrie, CEO of Direct Wines

5. Watch out for import duties
“ One key issue is the cost of import duties on items that are produced overseas, brought back to the UK and then sold overseas. We bond some of our stock when it first arrives in the UK. That means that we don’t pay UK import duties on stock that is being shipped overseas again. Otherwise we would pay import duties twice.”

Nick Hussey, founder of cycle clothing brand Vulpine

6. Know your business…
“Make sure you’ve really understood what enables you to be successful in your home territory and hang on tight to that in other territories. If you find yourself switching business model, changing sector, or moving outside your comfort zone in a new market, when it doesn’t work you won’t know why that is.”

Simon McMurtrie, CEO of Direct Wines

7. …But keep an open mind
“Never assume you know how to brand and market your product in overseas territories and never assume you know exactly who your customer will be when you go overseas. Listen to your collaborators and learn from them. Keep an open mind and be prepared to follow the opportunities that arise rather than stick rigidly to a business plan.”

Gemma Clarke is the chief global officer for Tangle Teezer

8. Just do it!
“You can spend months or even years analysing the potential of a particular territory but in the end you just need to get started.”

Simon McMurtrie, CEO of Direct Wines

This is an adaptation of an article that originally appeared in Trade Radar, our international trade magazine for UK businesses.

The opinions and views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the HSBC group.


Issued by HSBC Bank plc 2014. Registered Office: 8 Canada Square, London E14 5HQ. Registered in England – Number 124259. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority

Topics: Export Concept, Export Planning, Export Process, Getting Started, Legislation & Regulation, Market Research, and Operations
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