Export Success

Business Insights

Export success can be a vital factor in growing your business and is also seen as key to UK growth overall, but it can be difficult for those new to exporting to know where to start.

There is help for those looking to experience the benefits accruing from doing business overseas such as growth, improvements in efficiency levels and ideas for new products and services.

A government sponsored body, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) provides expert international trade advice and practical support to UK-based companies who want to grow their business overseas, working with UK based businesses to ensure their success in international markets through exports.

UKTI’s latest research demonstrates that exporting has significant benefits for businesses, positively impacting on staffing, productivity, financial performance and longevity. The figures are compelling, showing that those firms who choose to export become 34 per cent more productive in their first year, while those already exporting achieve 59 per cent faster productivity growth than non-exporters.

A key trend that emerges from this research is that more and more exporters are doing business with emerging markets. In 2012, exports to Brazil and China rose 12 and 10 per cent respectively. Significantly, the research has shown that it is not just experienced long-term exporters who are being drawn to these markets but also relatively new exporters who are making the leap. With their rapidly rising populations and GDP levels, these countries provide significant opportunities for exporters across the board.

Exporting not only helps individual companies to grow but also plays an important role in improving our trade balance. UKTI and Government as a whole are committed to creating an environment that is supportive of UK businesses’ engagement in international trade.

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.

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. They advising that potential exporters need to research the markets they are moving into, not just the GDP figures and statistics but who 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 can be important, is it perhaps law that you 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? And will the cost of these modifications make it prohibitive to sell to this market? Remember, it is much easier to fulfil a 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 its meaning in the vernacular too and, most importantly, is someone else using it? Check the market’s attitude to copyright, design rights and trademarks. Find ways to mitigate the risk or don't start selling in this market; choose another

Research - to understand all 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!

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