January 31, 2011

SMEs Need Help To Start Exporting

by Jan Harris

Recent studies highlight the even though small businesses can benefit significantly from expanding their customer base overseas, few of them plan to move into the export market because of the perceived barriers.

According to a survey of 1,000 UK SMEs carried out by Kingston University on behalf of Barclays, only 2% of the small firms that are not currently exporting plan to enter the export market in 2011.

A number of reasons were given for not exporting, including insufficient capacity, not being able to speak to customers face-to-face, and a lack of understanding of foreign markets.

Another survey, this time for Parcelforce, also found that firms were unwilling to export because they thought the barriers were too great.

A study of 513 executives for Parcelforce found that although 84% had rejected the idea of exporting, 46% believed overseas trading would boost revenues by 10%.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on the government to provide additional support to help small businesses take advantage of the country’s export potential.

Although FSB figures show that UK exporting has increased from 10 cent of annual sales to 23 per cent since 2009, the organisation has found that
excessive red tape is deterring some businesses from exporting.

The FSB wants the help available through the Passport to Export Scheme to be more widely promoted.

The scheme, which is provided by UK Trade & Investment, offers support in visiting potential markets; mentoring and advice; subsidised training and other services for firms new to exporting.

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