Preparing Your Company for Exporting: A Guide

One of the best ways to expand your business is by moving into new territories and exporting your products overseas. This is something which many small business owners are reluctant to pursue for a number of reasons – a fear of language barriers, a lack of cultural knowledge and local business contacts, or legal formalities. Research conducted earlier this year by international money transfer processor Kwanji, shows just one in five small businesses in the UK are exporting internationally – the rest of Europe has an average of one in four.

UK Trade and Investment

Despite the reluctance of many UK companies, exporting can be a hugely rewarding step and one which can grow your business considerably. Recent surveys conducted by UK Trade & Investment have shown that 85% of exporting business owners said it had given them ‘a level of growth not otherwise possible’. 87% claimed that exporting had considerably improved their profile or credibility, while 73% said exporting had increased the commercial lifespan of their products or services.

For any business which is already established and having success on home soil, deciding to move into exporting your products can be an excellent next step. The more UK businesses are exporting, small and large, the better it is for the economy and for the business community as a whole. Many business experts and industry leaders agree that small companies should try to take that next step internationally wherever possible. Graeme Donnelly, director of company formation specialist Rapid Formations said: “It’s very important for British business that they continue to expand overseas where possible. Over the years we have formed a lot of companies here, and the ones which have great success tend to be those who aim beyond their surroundings and begin serving customers all over the world. Everything is so well connected these days, it’s easier than ever to be a global business.”

So what do you need to know before taking the step of exporting with your company? Here are just a few of the basic considerations to make before going worldwide.

Market research and risk assessment

Conducting thorough market research is crucial for any business looking to move into new territories. There are a number of factors to consider, such as cultural differences that may exist between the UK and the countries you are choosing to export to; the costs of shipping versus the potential target marker in this country; and various different legal restrictions for the country. also suggest you consider insurance costs for logitstics.

With this there also comes a number of new risks which suddenly must be considered. Fluctuating exchange rates can be an issue some new exporters don’t consider for instance. You must also research the guidelines and regulations for production and sales in the country you are exporting to – these vary around the world and you may have to make some changes to your practices in order to get permissions.

Research government support

Over the last few years, the UK government has placed a lot of focus on urging small and medium businesses to try and pursue overseas trade opportunities wherever possible. As part of this scheme, the Department of Trade and Investment offer a wide range of support facilities which can help with businesses exporting goods:

  • UKTI’s Passport to Export service provides export assessment and support to determine if your SME is ready for exporting.
  • Gateway to Global Growth offers initial 12 months support for businesses looking to expand into new markets and grow their business overseas.
  • The Export Marketing Research Scheme offers free independent advice on how to conduct efficient market research for expanding into new territories. The support on offer with this scheme can advise on the best way to deliver products and services.
  • The High Value Opportunities programme helps UK businesses access high value overseas procurement projects. The scheme identifies opportunities and offers assistance to help UK businesses secure contracts.
  • An Export Communications Review can help you develop an international communications strategy. This can help your business overcome language and cultural barriers.
  • Medium-Sized Businesses (MSBs) can also access a designated package of support services specially designed for well-established MSBs in the UK.
Sectors: Business Services
Topics: Export Planning and Getting Started
Export Action Plan