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4 tips for exporting SMES

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John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said: “This week is Export Week and it gives us the perfect opportunity to help businesses understand what they need to do to take advantage of overseas opportunities.

“Given the export growth potential among the smallest businesses they just need a helping hand to get on the way. Small firms remain a key part of the drive to increase the number of exporters.

“Our members alone that want to export could make a huge economic contribution. However they do face barriers to taking that first step.

The tips are: 

1. Know the country you are exporting to

Knowing where you want to do business is just as important and setting out a business plan. A business needs to be confident of demand for the goods and services as well as what the competition is and how much they charge. 

Different countries will also have different rules concerning marketing and advertising too, so what works in the UK may not work in overseas markets. UK Trade and Investment offer help through the Passport to Export scheme which helps first time exporters.

2. Consider how you want to sell abroad

Businesses need to consider if they will sell through a distributor, an agent, through a joint venture or open an office. 

Ultimately most businesses will benefit from some local help, either in the country or through other businesses that have sold products there.

3. Understand one country before moving to another

While each country will have different documentation to fill in on tax for example, all countries will have different customs as part of their culture. 

Firms should get to know these before moving on to sell in another country. HMRC provides good documentation to help first time exporters.

4. Know your customers

Knowing the customs and commercial deadlines potential customers work to is important, for example, Saturday and Sunday are not weekends everywhere. 

A business should also check that new customers can pay for the goods. If a business has concerns about payment, they can ask for pre-payment or an Export Letter of Credit through their bank.

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