Business Finance: Mark Prince on why exporting is an opportunity not to be missed

Mark Prince of KPMG

Mark Prince of KPMG - Credit: Archant

You are apparently 11 times more likely to survive as a business if you do this, and the Germans and Italians are great at it.

However, according to KPMG’s latest research, over a third of SME businesses (36%) in the East of England have absolutely no interest whatsoever in expanding to overseas markets as part of their growth agendas.

Our research, conducted by YouGov last month, found that complex legal regimes followed closely by not having strong enough networks with overseas organisations and a lack of tax incentives were the main barriers preventing our local SME businesses from taking advantage of the huge growth potential offered by overseas markets.

It is not surprising given how quickly the global recession took hold that SMEs who have survived are choosing to focus solely on the domestic market in the UK, but it is short-sighted given the huge appetite for British goods and services abroad.

Representing “Brand Britain” abroad is something this is high on the Government’s agenda and it has set targets to double our exports to £1trillion by 2020. Making sure that the SME community is open to exploring international trade is one way of moving us towards this target.

Last month UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) announced that it had supported 35,000 small businesses in 2013-14 compared to 22,000 in 2012-13. In April trade and investment minister Lord Livingston wrote to every medium-sized business in the country offering tailored trade advice and an intensive programme of support to help them start exporting or break into new markets.

With decades of experience in working with businesses of all sizes, support from agencies such as UKTI can prove invaluable to ambitious, expanding businesses.

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This week is Export Week where UKTI will provide advice and support to small and medium businesses on how to enter new international markets with 90 events across the UK and over 6,000 businesses expected to attend. They are running a host of sessions across our region and could easily plug the knowledge gaps and help with issues such as introductions to new distributors, access to finance, help to sell online and much more.

Linking in with organisations which run trade missions overseas or have good networks abroad is the first step on a journey that is not nearly as complex as SMEs believe, and the rewards can be huge.

: : Mark Prince is head of enterprise at KPMG in East Anglia.

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