Top Tips for would be SME exporters

Next week (10-14th November 2014) is the sixth annual National Export Week, a campaign to bring together public and private sector organisations to boost the UK’s exports.

The Government is all too aware of the importance of overseas trade for future economic growth, setting an ambitious target of doubling current figures to £1 trillion by 2020. Exporting is not for everyone, but if this is inspiring you to look to overseas markets to growing your revenue and profit, remember to do your homework! Below are some important things to consider before you venture overseas.

Research is key!
Before you commit to exporting you need to honestly assess your company’s export potential – both in terms of the business and the product or service you are looking to sell.
Detailed market research is essential to identifying and evaluating the target market. UKTI for example, can provide focused business advice and helps you assess whether there is a market for your goods.

Plan, plan and plan again
After the research, comes the export plan defining how you will enter the new market.
Some important things to think about include:

• A clear marketing strategy that incorporates international trade development and the necessary financial resources needed.
• Resource – Do you have the right people in place to develop the new export markets and adequate knowledge of the requirements of your chosen market – e.g. modifying packaging to meet local regulations and standards?
• Making sure you are fully up to speed with export payment mechanisms and export finance.
• Careful consideration of Selling and distribution in overseas markets. How will you organise your sales presence in export markets through direct selling, a strategic partner, a distributor, a sales agent, or your own local office?
• How will you market your products? You’ll need to appreciate the traditions, culture and legislation of the countries you are trading with to exploit your exporting efforts and customise your marketing efforts accordingly.
• An understanding of legal obligations as an exporter. You’ll need to familiarise yourself with the VAT rules administered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

With exporting identified as an important driver in the UK economic recovery it is definitely worth considering. Careful research and planning may appear time consuming in the beginning but are vital in avoiding any potential problems further down the line.

Remember that help also available from a variety of sources, including business organisations such as the Forum. For further information and advice on exporting visit www.fpb.org/exporting

Image: Exports via Shutterstock

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