UK SMEs show Europe the export routes

The UK’s small businesses are leading the way when it comes to exporting, outperforming all of their European neighbours according to a new survey.


UPS revealed that SMEs in the UK that exported beyond Europe had led the way following the global financial crisis.


More than 8,000 businesses from seven major European markets were questioned on their motivations for exporting and on any issues they faced when doing so.


SMEs from the automotive, healthcare, high tech, industrial and retail sectors in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Belgium and the UK were all involved.


Between 2010 and 2012, 72% of UK small businesses revealed an increase in turnover while those who exported could generally expect greater levels of turnover than those who only shipped domestically.


The exceptions to this rule were in Italy and Poland but it was outside of the EU that British businesses found competitive advantage.


UK outstripping European rivals


Of all the countries covered, an average of 43% who had exported had increased turnover by delivering to within or outside the EU.


However, UK SMEs were 29% more successful than the European average when exporting beyond the EU, and 26% more successful when exporting within it.


Despite this, the research suggested that some businesses are still failing to take advantage of export opportunities, citing high shipping costs, administrative issues and cultural and linguistic barriers as the major stumbling blocks.


In particularly completive markets this could result in lost sales and missed opportunities, with the SMEs urged to look even further afield.


While not a major issue for many small businesses, failing to take custom could impact on the overall running of the business, even placing it in jeopardy.


Should this occur, a firm should seek business insolvency advice to see if there are alternative options available, especially if financial losses are seen regularly.


Ambition for small companies is often looked upon favourably, but it is also essential that businesses are not over-ambitious in the early stages, as it could have negative consequences.


By Phil Smith


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