According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), there are huge opportunities for would-be small business exporters in the UK, even though only 21 per cent of them have been involved in exports over the past few years.
However, the FSB’s report, entitled Destination Export: The small business export landscape, found that this percentage was matched by the number of small firms that would like to get into the export market, meaning that the number of exporters could double if they receive the right support.
The report also uncovers a number of challenges, the biggest of which is for small firms to find the right customers. It also found that small business owners lack confidence in trading overseas and do not know where to go for support.
These concerns have led many to conclude that exporting their goods or services is not for them and yet there are clear benefits to doing so, with the average annual turnover of an exporter, at £935,921, being more than double that of a non-exporter, at £390,018.
As a spokesman for the Federation pointed out, as well as more traditional barriers such as language and foreign exchange concerns, businesses have to deal with a rapidly changing export landscape.
In addition, while the EU is by far the dominant export destination for small businesses, with 93 per cent of exporters selling to countries within that trading bloc, it would appear that newer entrants to the export market are attracted to a more diverse range of destinations, especially emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East.
Given the obvious appetite amongst small businesses to broaden their sales horizons, the report urges those offering support to seize the opportunity to boost this trend by helping to provide market knowledge and practical information on logistics, delivery and translation services.