UK sales director at FedEx Express, Martin Davidian, offers his top tips for Business Advice readers looking to tap into the overseas markets with most potential.
With UK export levels growing faster than global rivals for the first time since 2006, exporting now sits at the top of many small business owners’ to do lists.
The message is clear – to achieve fast and sustainable growth beyond domestic markets, small business owners need to proactively enter new markets and explore new territories. But with a whole world of opportunity, how do you know where to start?
Your first global step
Whether young or established, small enterprise owners would be wise to consider overseas markets.
Knowing where to start can be challenging, it very much depends on the sector you’re trading in and what your company is looking to achieve in the short, medium and long-term.
This is particularly resonant with micro business owners where taking a step like this requires time, extra resources and is a business challenge. Ensuring you have access to support and expertise will help to ensure your venture is a success.
The UK tends to export to mature markets close to home, such as France or Germany, but it’s easier than ever to tap into lesser-known markets further afield.
That’s where building a strong network of trusted and supportive partners, who are experienced in trading internationally, comes into play to improve chances of success.
With this network in place and a can-do attitude, British businesses have a big opportunity to become world-renowned in any number of different sectors.
Entering Fruitful Markets
Shortly after they receive their first order from overseas, new business owners haven’t necessarily gone looking for international clientele, but in the digital age they’ve been offered a fantastic growth opportunity on a silver platter. Opportunities like this must be taken advantage of.
From UKTI to logistics providers, support is available. A key pieces of advice is to explore the market in that particular country to gauge if there is further growth potential.
This doesn’t always have to involve a major financial investment – like many small businesses believe. Jumping on a plane can be enough to gauge main competitors, market share and price points. Teamed with local support and data insights this can provide a much clearer picture of the opportunities available.
Even just using the internet to research important market information is a great place to start, and as a small business owner, this is a preferable option.
Capitalising on “Brand Britain”
There has been an increase in the demand for British-made products. Thanks to its perceived quality, the Made in Britain marque was introduced and publicity around it was generated, proving that opportunities for exporting are particularly fruitful.
By capitalising on the growing appeal of “Brand Britain”, sectors like the UK fashion industry have already seen huge growth from ecommerce. In the fast-fashion age, an efficient supply chain is absolutely invaluable in getting the latest designs to market quickly, both at home and overseas.
Capitalising on this increasing interest in British-labelled products, first time exporters should consider exploring European markets as a first step. Given current free trade agreements and short transit times, it is a natural first step to take.
You may even consider building “Britishness” into your branding, for example by sewing a “made in Britain” tag onto garments or including “made in Britain” branding when you package goods.
Exploring New Areas
“Brand Britain” is proving extremely fruitful for all small busiensses looking to make their mark in markets overseas.
Whatever your industry, it is worth taking inspiration from further afield when growing your international presence. There are countless export opportunities out there and sometimes what seems like the ideal market might not be as ultimately fruitful as other, lesser-known ones.
In all overseas markets, having a thorough understanding of the culture and its approach to doing business is vital. While things like business etiquette may seem relatively minor, not following the correct protocols could be a deal-breaker.
It’s a great idea to speak with a logistics provider that specialises in the country, as this will give you on-the-ground insight. Gaining guidance from experts locally in both the UK and your chosen country to export to, will enable your business to realise its potential and become a true “export-preneur”.
Martin Davidian is managing director for sales in UK North and Ireland at FedEx Express.
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