Businesses are being urged to export their way to growth – but many small companies are wary of selling overseas. What first steps should you be taking if you want to start trading internationally?
If you’ve never traded beyond the borders of the UK before, starting to export products or services can be daunting. But approach it methodically and you could end up reaping the benefits.
The key to success is research. However knowledgeable you are about your market at home, you need to be sure you have everything in place to make exporting go smoothly or mistakes can be costly.
There’s plenty of groundwork you can do. It may sound simple, but check whether there is a demand for your product. Some simple market research through the internet or existing contacts could save you from devoting time and money to something that’s not suitable for your business.
Once you’ve established there is a demand in a foreign market, don’t be afraid to ask for advice or guidance. Businesses you deal with that are already trading overseas may be able to give you valuable advice.
Your local international trade team, the Chamber of Commerce or other business advice networks can also be useful sources of information. The Government’s UK Trade and Industry department offers a free session with a trade expert, to help your business grow internationally whatever stage your business is at.
Networking events or trade shows can be a great place to make new relationships and test the water in the overseas markets.
‘Red tape’ can be the downfall of some first time exporters – make sure you know what the legalities are in the country you’re going to be working in and what paperwork is required. Knowing this at the outset can certainly save a few headaches later.
Do your research and get it right and exporting can offer your business a sustainable and positive future.
But once you’ve started trading overseas, don’t take your eye off the ball. Keep abreast of all the latest developments in the market and exchange rates to make sure your business remains an export success story.
Nicole Howarth is an established expert on international trade and is managing director of award-winning Telford shipping company Global Freight.
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