Small business exports could be doubled, claims FSB

Just over one in five businesses in the UK has exported regularly in the past few years, while a similar proportion are open to the concept, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

This means that exports by Britain’s small businesses could be doubled with the right support, although work is needed for it to be possible.

The FSB clams that the Government, the private sector, the finance industry and business associations need to “focus on providing effective targeted and tailored support”.

Given that 21% if businesses are already exporting on a regular basis, the template is already in place for others to copy.

However, a number of challenges exist that will need to be overcome, according to the FSB, with the biggest seen as finding the right set of potential customers overseas.

Knowing how to market to them, having greater confidence in trading abilities and knowing where to go for support are also deemed essential aspects for SMEs.

Other ore traditional challenges also exist, including language issues, foreign currency exchange rates and changing regulation.

For businesses that operate on narrow margins, managing their finances is exceptionally important – alternative finance options do exist though, should they find themselves in difficulty.

The rise of e-commerce provides a further challenge – selling online is becoming a necessity for businesses to get ahead but a poorly managed sales platform can do just as much harm as good.

Firms need to strike a balance between time and investment to ensure they can export successfully without it costing too much to do so.

The FSB revealed that exports have their benefits – SMEs that were exporting had an average turnover of around £936,000, compared to £390,000 for non-exporters.

Of current exports, around 93% of small businesses sell to clients within the EU while new gateways are opening in emerging markets in Asia and the Middle East.

The outcome of Brexit may yet impact on those figures, although the FSB has moved to highlight the importance of the single market – providing access to 500 million potential customers and more than 26 million businesses.

By Phil Smith

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