However, in reality, SMEs are “born global” as they literally face a world of possibilities and challenges as a result of their global footprint.Whether a company imports stock, pays in multiple currencies or simply markets its services online, it is operating in a global environment and is therefore subject to international opportunities and challenges. According to New Internationals, RSA’s latest study, today SMEs are connected through technology and business operations to markets beyond the UK and Europe. This is not always widely understood by new businesses, which can lead to greater risk exposure and potential missed opportunities for cross-border growth and expansion. Therefore dealing with the realities of globalisation is a core competency of running a successful business today. The post-General Election emergency budget has also gone some way to address the fact that the UK is losing the global race in supporting new and growing businesses. The creation of Digital Economy Centres to help businesses exploit opportunities in the creative, finance, healthcare and education sectors, for example, will provide greater support to ambitious SMEs. While the Government irons out the details of its latest measures, SME business leaders should consider what they can do to improve their own growth prospects. (1) Ask for help The Government has launched a number of initiatives to support different kinds of businesses across the country get the help they need, such as the UKTI advisers service. Advice can also be sourced directly from independent sources like the Federation of Small Businesses and specialist advisers, such as brokers. (2) Know your market Understanding industry predictions is key to staying afloat and remaining competitive, ensuring that small businesses can react and adapt quickly to changing market conditions however volatile or uncertain they are. (3) Be brave As the economy recovers, small businesses should make the most of their agility and focus on achieving their full growth potential. These decisions might seem like a big risk, but if you’re well prepared and have taken the necessary precautions then they could just be the best decisions you ever made. (4) Plan for the worst Develop a business continuity plan that identifies all the services or parts of your business that you can’t afford to lose, such as information, stock or premises, and plan for how to maintain these if an incident occurs. Any incident can cause major disruption to a business, so pre-planning will help you get back to normal in the quickest possible time, reducing the impact on the company and staff. It’s vital to work together with trusted advisors to understand and recognise international exposure to maximise growth and minimising any challenges from abroad. By doing this, SMEs will boost their confidence and growth, and subsequently boost employment, productivity and growth contributed to the UK economy. David Swigciski is SME trading director at RSA.
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