LondonLovesBusiness’ Robyn Vinter examines the dramatic impacts exporting can have on your business.
Looking for improved productivity, innovation and resilience?
More and more businesses are catching the export bug. It’s little wonder, when you look at the dramatic impact it can have. Businesses that export are, on average, 34% more productive than those that don’t, according to UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).
Still not sure about exploring a new market yet? Here are eight ways exporting can help your business boom:
- The Made in Britain brand is in demand – Cool Britannia is here
Britain has a reputation for top-quality products, leading design, and trustworthy business conduct. All of which makes it easier for Brits to market their businesses overseas than for those in many other nations.In fact, the UK repeatedly does well in tables of the most reputable countries. In 2013, it came 15th in the world in terms of reputation, in a list compiled by the Reputation Institute, an international reputation management consulting firm.
The recession has hit small and medium-sized businesses hard, and many of those who have survived have taken a hit on profits. According to UKTI, businesses that export are 12.5% more resilient than businesses that don’t, showing there is a clear case for not putting all your eggs in one basket – or one nation, as the case may be.
- There’s plenty of support
The government is focusing heavily on exports as part of its growth strategy, providing a range of support initiatives, including UK Export Finance and UKTI.UKTI has staff in about 100 markets across the world. The organisation is able to connect businesses with useful contacts overseas. It also hosts events, and arranges trips where businesses of all shapes and sizes can be introduced to overseas markets.
Good logistics firms can also provide advice and support, acting as a partner throughout the whole process. UPS, for example, as the world’s largest customs broker, has experts that are well prepared to help you navigate complex international trade regulations - keeping you compliant and, most importantly, avoiding penalties. Its suite of free information based services, UPS TradeAbility, helps manage movement of goods effectively across borders.
- Boosting innovation
Businesses that export are 75% more innovative and undertake three times more research and development than those that don’t, according to UKTI. Innovation isn’t just about adapting to new markets - it keeps a business one step ahead of competition in the UK too.Small businesses that are able to adapt are often the ones that survive, and exporting teaches you the discipline of adaptation. Not all countries do business the same way, and demand for certain products varies from place to place. Becoming more innovative and flexible feeds back into your business culture as a whole.
- Costs can be kept low
Cash flow and costs will always be concerns for SMEs. But exporting doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. Consider speed versus economic shipping options - from collecting payments on deliveries to trade credit insurance. An organisation such as UPS has a range of added value services that you can take advantage of. Costs can be kept low by shipping in bulk, for example. A reliable logistics partner can help you keep prices down and find efficiencies in your overseas operations.
- Significantly broaden your market
The UK has only 0.8% of the world’s population. That figure isn’t particularly surprising, but it can often be forgotten. In fact, the EU, where 50% of our goods and services went last year, represents only 7% of the world’s population and only 19% of its GDP. The potential of the enormous overseas market is a welcome opportunity to British business whose domestic market has high competition.And while the size of the all-important consumerist middle class in the UK doesn’t appear to be changing too much, in other parts of the world it is growing rapidly.
This growth is boosting demand for imported products, particularly in emerging economies like China. Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce platform, recently signed a deal with the UK raising the profile of British companies among its 500 million registered users - and making now a good time to start exporting there. Other countries with fast-growing middle classes include the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and the MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey).
- No need for physical resources in foreign markets
SMEs can often feel they need to have a “base” in the countries they’re exporting to. But e-commerce makes it possible to work from a small office at home, dealing with orders completely on the computer. Receiving orders, taking payment and sorting out problems can all be done via a business website and email. It’s even possible to track individual dispatched orders from door to door if you work with a logistics partner like UPS. Its tracking tools provide status updates throughout the delivery journey, meaning you and your customers have full visibility and are informed every step of the way.
- You can do it – whatever type of business you are
Some businesses, such as manufacturers, lend themselves more easily to exporting, but there are still options for those that traditionally wouldn’t think of exporting. Service exports are at a record high according to the British Chambers of Commerce. Services make up 80% of the UK economy but only 33% of our exports, according to UKTI.Businesses from a variety of industry segments can take advantage of the huge opportunities that exporting can deliver. Whether they’re in healthcare, automotive, industrial manufacturing, automotive parts, high-tech or retail, there is opportunity for businesses of all sizes.
And today is the perfect time to start taking advantage of them.