Who’s afraid of the big bad export?
At this year’s British Chamber of Commerce conference, Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, made a claim that might have sounded like a bad April Fools’ joke, were it not so brutally honest. He stated that there are currently 150,000 British businesses that are capable of exporting, but aren’t doing so. Cable saw this situation as one of the main threats to the UK’s economic recovery.
Export has always been a hot topic for debate, but perhaps the time has finally come for more companies to take the plunge. If you woke up on the brave side of the bed this morning, why not get some inspiration from the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Export Week, which took place between April 7 and April 11?
Export is our bread and butter here at Cressall Resistors. We have many years of experience and we’re familiar with its ups and downs, but we wouldn’t give it up for the world. In fact, 2013 was a record year for us and we partly owe this success to the 57 per cent of our direct sales, which came from exports. Of course, lean management and a brilliant, dedicated team also played an important role.
The excellent news about exporting is that it can grow your business in many ways. It opens up new markets and helps significantly increase sales. In fact, the more you export and the higher the number of markets you address, the more stable your business gets. This is because you’re not relying on a single trade partner that might, or might not be having a good year. Instead, you’re always selling to the most profitable and vibrant markets, growing not just your turnover, but also your client base and reputation. Not being completely dependent on the domestic market also means you are less affected by price or demand fluctuations.
Done properly, exporting reduces risk and balances growth. But it also does so much more than that. The global market is an extremely competitive realm, ruled by efficiency and quality. As an exporter, you have to constantly adapt, innovate and improve – this is what being an international business leader is all about.
To make sure you hit the export jackpot, planning and research have to be at the core of your strategy, especially during its early days. Deciding what your main markets are, putting together a viable plan and finding suitable business partners or distributors, should never be taken lightly.
It might seem like a scary route to take, we agree – and it’s definitely easier to stick with what you know. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. And so does business growth.
But don’t base your exporting strategy on a motivational quote. Instead, have a look at the activities the UKTI offers in your area. The organisation provides tailored advice for companies that would like to export or have already been doing so for a while. They can also help seize opportunities that you might not otherwise have access to – including funding – and they have an excellent network of contacts around the world.
What better time than this week to stand up and face the big bad export wolf?