Is the government doing enough to help you operate overseas?

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Limited companies and sole traders have been encouraged by the government to export into new markets in recent years, but new research suggests not enough is being done to support these sentiments.

A study from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed over three quarters of companies (78 per cent) struggle to access support for exporting.

Of those that do manage to get on government schemes, 33 per cent find them effective.

According to the FSB, government assistance and information needs to be easier to access to enable small businesses to seize the strong opportunity for export growth that currently exists.

However, 45 per cent are currently unsure of how to get assistance to realise their plans to enter new markets.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said: "Our research shows that, despite best efforts, our members continue to be frustrated in their attempts to expand overseas. It is vital that UK's small firms receive the right support, not just their medium-sized or larger counterparts, and that it is maintained for the long term."

The FSB claims there needs to be a more streamlined and tailored approach to export support and information. To do this, the government must recognise how the needs of smaller firms differ to larger companies.

Currently 23 per cent of small firms are able to export goods and services, with manufactured goods and services making up 55 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. However, 26 per cent still find getting overseas customers challenging.

The FSB's recent Small Business Summit Day at the International Festival for Business was hoped to make it easier. It took place on July 3rd and helped to raise awareness so that companies could take the first steps in exporting.

There is plenty of information available in the public domain to help limited companies and sole traders get into the export market.

Rosana Mirkovic, head of SME policy at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, is just one person who has previously offered advice.

Speaking to The Guardian she explained that one of the most important things to bear in mind is that what works at home may not work in a new market. Consequently, businesses really to think and research whether their product or service is suitable for export. In some instances, Ms Mirkovic continued, it may be found that there isn't enough of a profit margin to absorb export costs or that offerings need to be adapted to suit overseas regulations.

By Victoria McDonnell

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