Top Tips on Exporting Lewis Scott, Regional Director, UK Trade & Investment South East

Exporting goods and services helps British businesses to grow, creates jobs and has the potential to add £30 billion to the UK economy.
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) can help businesses of all sizes break into overseas markets. Research shows 85 per cent of UKTI clients reported that exporting had enabled them to achieve a level of growth not otherwise possible.

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You need a plan
Make sure you have a business plan which incorporates an export strategy. Talk through your ideas with one of UKTI’s International Trade Advisers (ITAs), all of whom have many years of export experience to draw on. An ITA can give you objective and impartial advice at no cost to your business.

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Start Small

Seek help
Take advantage of organisations that specialise in supporting businesses to trade overseas, such as UKTI, UK Export Finance (UKEF), Chambers of Commerce, banks, lawyers, freight forwarders and your accountants. Their support will be crucial; exporting is a team game.

It may be tempting to try and take on the world on day one, but focus on one or two countries at first.

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Do your homework
Use our expert ITAs to help you research specific countries through our Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS). Research who your potential customers and partners might be, as well as your competitors. If you want to undertake detailed market research, we can help fund a project with our Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS).

Test your market

Take part in overseas Events, Trade Fairs and Market Visits to test markets. These will present opportunities to talk to potential customers and appoint agents or distributors. UKTI’s Trade Access Programme (TAP) provides grants to companies to attend trade shows and your ITA can provide funding to participate in Market Visits worldwide.

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Find partners overseas
Identify, appoint and manage agents and representatives. Make sure agents or representatives are the right people for your market, and will positively reflect your business and its values and interests.

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Make sure you get paid

Appreciate cultural differences
Failure to take account of different cultures may lead to damaging or costly mistakes. These could range from causing offence by not observing protocol, to using inappropriate packaging or marketing. If you would like to assess how a foreign business sees your company you could commission an Export Communication Review (ECR) for which grants are available.

As obvious as it may sound, it is very easy to overlook the risk of non-payment. You can establish the credit rating of potential clients in many countries and guard against non-payment through, for instance, a letter of credit or credit insurance accessed through your bank. UKEF can provide advice and insurance where the private market can’t help.

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Have patience

Understand and manage currency risks
Get to know currencies you will be dealing with. Consult foreign exchange providers as they have a wealth of experience and knowledge, and again, speak with your ITA.

Setting up overseas may not move as quickly as you expected; local customs and legislation can sometimes slow things down. In many countries, business is based on close personal relationships and trust, so do not be disheartened if you do not come home with a sales order on your first visit to the market. You will get out of exporting what you put in. The rewards of dealing with thriving high growth economies are out there – so it is worth investing your time and money.

Find out more
If you would like to learn more about the services UKTI can offer your company, and upcoming events in the region, you can call 08452 789 600 or email info@uktisoutheast.com.

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