Overcoming hurdles – Difficulties finding the right information

How can companies gain access to the right information about doing business in a distant market to understand how to deliver products or services there?

This is less of a problem among the SME community than might be expected with one large business survey finding that only 15 per cent of firms of less than ten employees cited this as a barrier. The same survey found no evidence that barriers lower as firms become more experienced overseas – the proportion citing this as an obstacle was exactly the same for new exporters, those exporting for 2-10 years and those with over ten years’ experience.

The importance of this barrier also varied depending on the country. For example, 32 per cent of entrants into China cite it as a barrier but this falls to 21 per cent for India.23

Breaking through:

An increasing amount of information is available on the internet and this is the obvious place to start for most SMEs. This can include relevant government rules about operating in the country as a foreign business, customs regulations and so on. The UKTI website has dedicated pages for each high-growth market.

UKTI’s International Trade Advisers (ITAs) across the UK help SMEs to find out the information they need to know before any export venture. The information is tailored to help each company reach sound decisions on issues such as whether or not to export to a high-growth market and how best to deliver products or services in a particular market. Some countries also have dedicated information providers, for example the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) is UKTI’s official trade service delivery partner for mainland China and is the leading organisation helping UK companies grow and develop their business with China.

Alternatively, a company may commission a professional marketing research agency to study the market in-depth on their behalf. Companies going down this route should think carefully about what information they want from the market research, and therefore how they need to ‘brief’ the agency.

Trade missions and visits to the market can also be a big help and can offer valuable insights into the local business context that make market entry easier and more effective. UKTI helps organise trade missions and also runs a Tradeshow Access Programme to help SMEs in this regard.


“ Information to help you understand the local business culture is vital. I am based in Abu Dhabi and there is little devolved authority in organisations here. This means that key purchasing decisions are often referred to the head of an organisation, which can delay the decision making process considerably. We recently had a UK organisation set up a business here and they got quite far along the road by themselves – including finding a local partner, recruiting key personnel and starting building works – but then had a small crisis when they realised that an approval they expected to take two weeks would actually take many months. UKTI provides that sort of general information free of charge to SMEs so I would always recommend a chat with a UKTI trade officer before venturing into a high-growth market like the UAE.”

Frances Moffett-Kouadio, UKTI Director of Trade and Investment, UAE

 To read the full document where this information came from, please click here;

Discovering high growth (.pdf 2.87 MB)


Topics: Market Research
Export Action Plan