Failure to export overseas is costing small UK businesses

Three in five small businesses in the UK are missing out on potential sales and growth opportunities given their failure to export overseas, new research has shown.

According to Royal Mail, 60% of Britain’s small firms are not selling overseas, which could be costing them millions of pounds in lost revenue.

Just over a quarter of firms blamed the cost and complexity of customs as the main reason for not exporting – despite the fact that customs duties are not chargeable on many international orders from outside the EU as they are below the minimum threshold.

Business owners also blame a lack of market knowledge and language issues for their failure to explore overseas options.

Not selling overseas could mean lost custom for many firms – more than a quarter of sales among the 40% of firms already trading abroad are expected to come from international markets this Christmas.

In terms of potential market options, 35% of firms see Europe as the best option for new sales, while 28% view North America in the same light.

Around 10% of small firms revealed that they sell within the EU but would like options that are further afield, while 15% of those selling outside the EU already are seeking more opportunities.

Only a quarter of firms are looking at overseas markets as a way of boosting sales too, with many not willing to shoulder the risks should something go wrong.

A failure to understand the market ahead of a product launch could see it fail, often with a major financial loss – something that many small firms can ill afford.

Any firm that does find itself in difficulty should seek advice from a trusted insolvency practitioner, as there may be any number of options available.

From contingency planning to independent business reviews, a firm can gain peace of mind, insight into its potential, and may even secure its long term future.

In terms of exporting, firms are encouraged to consider their options as online marketplaces may provide a number of potential openings to market.

By Phil Smith

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