Business Finance: Keith Ferguson says help is available to help firms unlock their export potential

Keith Ferguson of BDO LLP.

Keith Ferguson of BDO LLP.

We are starting to see a shift in attitudes to growth by medium-sized businesses (MSBs) in East Anglia.

Companies are setting their sights further afield and are increasingly keen to tap into the potential sales that lie in overseas markets. In fact, three quarters (78%) of MSBs expect to generate more revenue from investment abroad in the next three years and more than half see exporting to new markets as core to their growth strategy.

The numbers speak for themselves and prove that doing business in international markets is no longer just the realm of the biggest businesses. It’s evident that local companies have the drive to do business abroad but many are unsure where to start and need help in understanding “how”. In our new joint report with the CBI, entitled “Go your own way”, we looked in detail at the hurdles companies face as they journey from non-exporter to international business.

First and foremost local businesses should build the knowledge and confidence to go abroad, consider practical differences ? language, culture, best practice, regulations ? and seek professional advice to help develop international networks, connect with local partners and research the funding options available to them.

The benefits of talking to other businesses, customers and experienced exporters that have already succeeded abroad should not be underestimated. Industry clusters, trade associations and professional advisers can also be a valuable source of knowledge and experience.

We also believe larger companies should have a role in supporting their MSB suppliers to help bring their products through to international markets, and collaborating through supply chains to help foster growth.

The Government has its part to play too. Over the past few years, government support has significantly improved but the majority of smaller businesses still don’t know about the schemes the Government offers, with two-thirds unaware of UK Export Finance (UKEF) and 69% of exporters not aware of UK Trade & Industry (UKTI).

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Not all businesses will be in a position to expand internationally but those that are need help to understand their potential for international success with hands-on support to map out their international journey. BDO is keen to help local businesses prosper in new markets across the world: are you ready to unlock your export potential?

: : Keith Ferguson is a partner at BDO LLP in Ipswich.