Opinion

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Over half of UK SMEs are concerned about foreign exchange fluctuation and believe the euro zone crisis will only get worse. Through the use of incentives, such as awards, SMEs will find courage and be more likely to trade.

With the advantage of the English language and a high number of Briton's working overseas, the UK has been the poster child for trading worldwide. As the world gets smaller through use of the internet, we've been given every chance to build highly successful global corporations. But with a possible EU exit looming ahead and the economy still on unsteady legs, we look to our SMEs to increase exports.

Were we to encourage more SMEs to export, then the UK's financial situation would change. The European debt crisis, however, has impacted the trading activities of British SMEs. As Europe is Britain's main trading partner, UK SMEs need a boost in confidence to do business on an international scale.

Worries about currency volatility is steadily increasing, with 61 per cent of SMEs concerned by foreign exchange fluctuation compared to the previous 49 per cent in the final quarter of 2012, according to Western Union Business Solutions International Trade Monitor. Additionally, 83 per cent of SMEs thought the Eurozone crisis would stay the same or become worse within the next 12 months.

We applaud the Bank of England's Funding for Lending Scheme. It creates incentives for banks to increase lending to UK households and businesses, which drives competition among lenders – beneficial to both consumers and businesses. Through incentive-based competitions, SMEs will find more self-confidence to trade outside the UK.

Although the UK has award ceremonies in abundance, they improve performance and boost business credentials. Arguably, one of the greatest indicators of a firm's success is being handed a prestigious accolade for great performance, innovation or marketing. It creates confidence and attracts foreign business by showcasing their success in "innovation", "developing sustainability", "one of the one's to watch", or "successfully expanding overseas" - whichever the award may be.

A spokesperson from Tiffany Rose, the winner of the Queen's Award for Enterprise International Trade, states that such awards are “recognised internationally as a hallmark of quality and will help support international expansion plans. International sales now make up more than 50 per cent of our revenue and area key component of our growth strategy for the future.”

Another success story comes in the form of Wakefield Shirt Company, a local firm with global ambitions. Their approach towards making shirts and uniforms for businesses and individuals borders on the personal, something which most of their clients value pretty highly. The company’s reputation, which was already growing beforehand, is likely to do so even more after they received an award.

It's a two-for-the-price-of-one scenario. Businesses use their awards to remind customers, investors and retailers that their products or services have been given a seal of approval by the captains of industry. They will also gain confidence, knowing they have been deemed one of the best from their industries, to expand their businesses into foreign territory.

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