2014 is going to be a big year for British exports. Whether you're a seasoned exporter or are considering selling products or services abroad for the first time, there are some things that you should know.
Carl Hasty, Director of Smart Currency Business, works with many clients who trade their products and services abroad. He offers the following tips for UK-based exporters:
1. Keep An Open Mind
There is no one perfect export strategy for any business. Keep your options open when researching foreign markets. Thinking of exporting to a certain country? Widen your inquiry: ask yourself how the country's GDP or population growth relates to your target market.
2. Compare To Compete
You want to beat the competition, but how? Competitor research is more complicated when you're dealing with exports, as you're not battling on home ground. Create a strategy to differentiate yourself from the pack, both from local competitors and other exporters.
3. Protect Your Business
Familiarise yourself with laws, regulations and restrictions native to the country or countries you're exporting to. Follow up any prospects with due diligence – you want to work with distributors, suppliers and other partners that you can trust, after all.
4. Get Government Support
UK businesses can seek support from government bodies United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI), that offers a range of services, or United Kingdom Export Finance (UKEF), which provides financial guarantees and insurance to British exporters.
5. Work The Floor At Trade Shows
Trade shows aren't just full of seminars and sales people, they're also platforms for partnership opportunities. Don't just speak to the most obvious points of contact, as help can sometimes appear in the unlikeliest of places too.
6. Tap Into Trade Finance
Trade finance is a handy cash flow solution for businesses engaged in exports. It can take on various forms, including advances of funds from a finance provider (like a bank). This provides you with a cash guarantee that can be used to cover the costs for your export operations.
7. Save On Currency Costs
Did you know that your business does not have to be subject to live currency exchange rates on the date of payment? You can opt for a forward contract, which allows you to reserve a favourable rate now for future use, helping you save money on currency costs.
8. Engage The Experts
Outsourcing your overseas supply chain management can free your business up to do what it does best, leaving the logistics to the experts. One way of doing this is to sign up with a fulfilment centre, which will store and deliver products internationally on your behalf.
9. When In Rome…
…do like the Romans do. This is applicable whatever the locale you're exporting to. Ensure that your business is acquainted with local knowledge beyond numbers, figures and cold, hard market research. Knowledge of local customs isn't restricted to social interactions but business ones too, so brush up on local business etiquette.
10. Reach Potential Customers
Ensure that products and services are labelled in the local language (if it's not English), and that your message isn't lost in translation. Take extra measures to create communications that don't tread on the toes of local traditions or result in awkward double meanings in the local language.
Exporting can seem like a complicated process, but many businesses are engaging in it profitably. Carve out a clear export strategy to keep your business on track, but allow for any unforeseen opportunities. Branching out into exports or widening your exporting operations will increase your business's revenue and help stimulate profitable growth that would not otherwise be possible.