More SMEs Are Looking To Export, Study Shows

New FSB Report Highlights Upturn In SMEs Looking To Sell Goods Overseas


Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

More British small and medium enterprises (SMEs) than ever are looking to export goods overseas.

This is according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which has conducted a study that showed a net balance of 24 per cent of companies believe export activity will rise in the next quarter.

The government has set an ambitious target of doubling the value of overseas sales by 2020 and wants to see an extra 100,000 companies setting up trade links with other countries by this point.

Although consumer demand has risen significantly in the past 12 months or so, numerous reports published by Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply have suggested that export activity has remained relatively weak. This can be partially attributed to problems in the eurozone, which is the UK's largest and most important trading partner.

The government has urged British SMEs to explore exciting and lucrative new markets, but the FSB thinks many smaller enterprises need extra support if this is to happen.

National chairman of the organisation, John Allan, insisted that starting to export for the first time is a massive step for SMEs.

"They therefore need tailored advice and support, which will allow them to overcome the barriers to exporting that have been repeatedly identified by our surveys," he commented. 

"There is also a major job to be done to raise awareness of the support UKTI offers small firms thinking of starting the export journey."

According to the FSB's report - which covered nearly 9,000 of its members - manufacturers (42 per cent) are the most likely to export, followed by wholesale traders (41 per cent).

Around 36 per cent of research and development specialists outlined plans to export their services in the near future, while engineers (34 per cent) and digital/telecoms businesses (25 per cent) said likewise.

The study also outlined the main barriers facing SMEs that are looking to export more goods, with currency fluctuations, a difficulty finding new customers and a lack of working capital being the most prominent reasons.

Expert Opinion
This is very encouraging and follows other reports that also highlight UK exporting success.

“The UK is well-known for its ability to sell its services across the world, but in order to create a well-balanced and sustainable economy, we must increase our manufacturing capability. Not only does the UK need to get better at making things that people or other businesses want, we as a country need to ensure that we produce them efficiently and market them effectively.

“SMEs have a big role to play here and it is clear that great strides have been made recently. They need support though and Export Week is a great starting point. Future confidence about exporting in the future exists and although there are huge opportunities for smaller businesses, it is vital that they seek the right advice from the start to ensure that they can deal with new challenges effectively.”
Steven Beahan, Partner