5 ways to unlock export potential
The latest export statistics show that in January 2016 the value of exports (EU and Non-EU) decreased to £22.1 billion, and imports (EU and Non-EU) increased to £31.6 billion, compared with last December (2015).
Exporting is becoming more and more difficult, but there remain huge opportunities for those companies who know how, when and where to export. What's more, you don't have to be a huge company to export - smaller companies are often more agile and can react to opportunities a lot quicker than their larger counterparts who are sometimes cumbersome and slower to market.
So, if you're an SME looking to sell your goods or services overseas, how do you do it? Here are my five golden rules:
How do I know when my business is ready to export?
So, when's the best time to export and is your business ready? A business owner usually 'knows' when to export when the UK marketplace doesn't deliver the growth required, or when an unexpected opportunity arises or when the product needed to support customers cannot be readily or economically sourced in the UK.
How do you choose a trading partner?
Possibly the most important aspect of exporting is picking the right business with which to enter into an agreement. Ensuring trading risks are mitigated usually dominate the thought process, but getting paid and establishing the right channel to market if exporting, guaranteeing product quality, timeliness of delivery and longevity of supply if importing are also important aspects to take into consideration.
Are you in the culture club?
Adapting to different business cultures is vitally important. Believe it or not, it is easy to ruin a relationship at birth by not observing the niceties properly. Even where we think we speak the same day-to-day language we're often two countries separated by the same language. Culture influences management, decisions and all business functions from accounting to production. It's very easy to think predominantly about national culture but this is only one aspect; business culture is its own unique dimension that includes getting off on the right foot, meetings, negotiation, formalities, social media use, internships and work placements. Start as you mean to go on.
So, I'm taking the plunge - who do I ask for advice?
The use of available advisers is often the route to ensuring that checks can be put into place. UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) has a wealth of knowledge as do the overseas desks of many organisations who can support. Using funders to assist the trading cash flows usually ensures the right financial checks and balances are in place and that trade supports your business rather than causing it difficulty. Take your time and gather as much advice as possible.
Which countries should we trade with?
All territories, with the right effort and controls, can prove to be fruitful. Clearly, some present particular issues at this moment in time but many emerging markets present vast opportunities. I'd advise to look at India and certain Far Eastern economies together with Brazil and other South and Central American opportunities, which could, with the right direction, provide positive growth.
For more information, please visit: www.mazars.co.uk