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How to boost your business’ export potential

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The government has recognised the huge benefits of businesses trading overseas, with David Cameron stating that the trade deficit could be wiped out if more businesses exported.

Just this month Business Secretary, Vince Cable, reminded UK companies the “need to stay ahead of the game and capitalise on the rapid growth of mobile technology and social media to find new international customers.”

This blog aims to inform you of the benefits of international trading and also outlines how you can explore your export potential. 

Why should you look overseas for orders?

Less than one per cent of the people in the world live in the UK – the other 99 per cent live overseas. So for thousands of UK companies needing more orders, better profits, and growth, their success (for some even survival) depends on winning more and better export orders. Remember, millions of people overseas like British companies and buy their products. 

Time spent preparing to export is invaluable

Preparation to ensure that the company, its people, products and finances are ready to start exporting, or to expand existing export activities, is essential. Preparation is a key factor for success and for new exporters the basic requirements would be to:

  • Meet with an international trade adviser
  • Develop an export plan with agreed targets and a budget
  • See what training is available to sharpen your business’ export skills
  • Conduct market research to find the best overseas target markets, buyers, and representatives.

How to enter new markets, including agents and distributors

There are a number of proven methods for UK companies to break into new overseas markets, including agents and distributors. Multiple market entry methods can accelerate export sales, but the export product will greatly influence the decision.

Important steps to successfully enter new markets and secure export orders include:

  • Selecting the right entry method(s)
  • Choosing the best representatives
  • Agreeing the basis of working together
  • Having a robust and effective written agreement in place

Work to a plan, be determined, but remain objective and flexible

Travelling the world can be expensive, so use desktop research to identify the best markets and target companies. Spend most time in markets where there are several potential orders to follow up.

Also consider nearby markets like Ireland that are low cost and easy to get to, but remain objective and flexible to respond quickly to overseas opportunities. Only a portion of enquiries turn into orders so determination and tenacity are needed. 

Don’t forget that exporting can be fun too

Along with the hard work that goes into developing these new markets, exporting also provides opportunities to visit interesting places around the world, experience different cultures, extend horizons, make new friends, and have fun too. 

Find out more

International trade support is available through our Lancashire LEAP programme which forms part of Boost Business Lancashire. To apply for a place on the programme, complete our online form or call 0800 488 0057.

Author

Rona McFall, Enterprise and Employment Manager, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire

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