Export, Why Wait?

Business Insights

Many companies who are thinking of exporting have been deterred by the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, and quite what our future trading relationship with the EU may be. However the world is a whole lot larger than the EU, and efforts to export, whether to the EU or globally, especially to emerging markets such as China and Brazil should not be limited by Brexit uncertainty.

Until March 2019, the UK will remain part of the EU and the single market so all existing trade agreements remain in place, meaning that it is an ideal time to “seize the nettle” and make a start.

Although Article 50 has been triggered, pundits agree that the process of negotiating our future trading relationship will take many years, and an interim arrangement is seen as necessary, and indeed predicted, if trade is not to be disrupted.

So why wait? It could be many years before anything is finally decided and in the meantime the world moves on.

Export can be vital for growing your business and there is plenty of help for those looking to experience the benefits which can accrue from doing business overseas such as growth, improvements in efficiency levels and ideas for new products and services.

An ideal first port of call for advice on export is a government sponsored body, UK Trade and Investment, (UKTI) which provides expert international trade advice and practical support to UK-based companies who want to grow their business overseas, and works with UK based businesses to ensure their success in international markets through exports.

Practical help and advice is also available from the Institute of Export and International Trade, which was formed to help businesses to understand best practice and share it with others.

Your local Chamber of Commerce is another valuable source of help and advice where other members can share their experiences.

All the experts agree that thorough research is fundamental if you are to succeed. The Institute of Export and International Trade recommends researching 5 key areas.

Research - your target market, not just the GDP figures and statistics but the businesses you are hoping to sell to. What is the business culture - from business cards to wearing suits? How do they do business and what will you need to change or adapt to operate in this market? Language can be important, and not just direct translation but an understanding of idiom and context and businesses should check whether there is a legal requirement for you to operate in the local language.

Research - to establish that there is a need for your product or offering and what, if any, modifications to the design, it may need to be accepted. Does the colour offend or mean something? Red is lucky in China but what does it mean in other markets? Does your product use electricity voltage? Will the cost of any modifications make it prohibitive to sell to this market? Remember, it is much easier to fulfil an existing demand than to try and create one.

Research - your trading name: can you use it in its current format? What does it mean locally, check it’s meaning in the vernacular too and, most importantly, is someone else using it? Check the market’s attitude to copyright, design rights and trademarks, and check that your product doesn’t infringe any. Find ways to mitigate the risk or don't start selling in this market; choose another

Research - the factors that may impact on your price. What duties does the market impose? What is the local tax that we call VAT? How many days do they take to pay? What method of payment do they use and how much does that cost? Which currency do they use and how can you plan to mitigate any risks involved in selling with this currency?

Research - how are you going to deliver your product? Packaging protects as well as attracting attention at selling point. What is the infrastructure like away from the main cities - not just the road system for delivering physical product but also broadband? Would a lack of broadband jeopardise the delivery of your offering or the support for your customers or business partners? What other areas would this impact upon?

There are many more issues around selling internationally that are overlooked at the peril of sustainability – and, most importantly, making a profit on the sale!