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Thinking about exporting? Here’s why you should get started today

At present only 20% of SMEs export outside the UK, a figure that has remained unchanged for several years. Releasing a report titled ‘Destination Export: The small business export landscape’, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) hopes to change this and encourage more SMEs to export goods and services.

“This points to the huge potential to double the number of small business exporters,” the FSB argues. “In order to tap into this potential, the Government, the private sector, the finance industry and business associations including FSB, must now focus on providing effective, targeted and tailored support.”

Exporting for growth

A finding in the report shows that 21% of SMEs may consider exporting. If the right levels of incentives and support were offered just over 40% of the UK’s small businesses may become exporters – double the current amount. According to business secretary Sajid Javid this is a “huge missed opportunity.”

“Small businesses that export are more likely to survive, grow and innovate” Martin McTague, FSB National Policy Director explains. “But in addition to more traditional barriers such as language and foreign exchange, businesses are having to deal with a rapidly changing export landscape and the advantages and challenges brought about by e-commerce.” If support were to be offered to SMEs it must include tools that will allow them to become viable competitors in the digital age, targeting a much wider customer demographic.

Government support is essential for achieving continued progress on this issue, according to the  FSB’s report. With continued governmental support combined with UKTI services there will be a greater drive towards SMEs exporting their goods and services globally. And of those who are currently exporting, 37% are reliant upon government support. The FSB’s report also recommends that UKTI expands their website and creates an online platform that will allow businesses to showcase their goods and services to the wider world.

However, one of the more recent factors weighing down on the minds of SMEs and the possibility of exporting goods and services is the EU. Although Theresa May is now running the UK, we’re still no closer to understanding what her vision of Brexit will look like. In response to this lingering issue, McTague says that the “FSB has clearly and consistently called for clarity on what the UK’s exit from the EU means for business, with particular emphasis on access to the single market and the free movement of people and trade. The majority of FSB members export to the single market which provides access to 500 million potential consumers, more than 26 million businesses and is worth around £9 trillion.”

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