Just 2% of Small Businesses Plan to Start Exporting

Just 2% of Small Businesses Plan to Start ExportingOnly 2% of small firms that are not currently exporting plan to do so this year, research from Barclays has found.

The Barclays report included a survey of 1,000 UK small businesses, which showed that 9% of non-exporters have never even considered exporting.

Respondents cited barriers including not having sufficient capacity to expand overseas, needing face-to-face access to customers, thinking it would be too much time and effort, and a lack of understanding of foreign markets.

The report’s author, Professor Robert Blackburn of Kingston University’s Small Business Research Centre, said that despite these difficulties, some small firms could use exporting to help them through the current economic conditions.

“There is undoubtedly an additional cost to exporting and it takes additional resources.”

said Blackburn.

“But for the firms that have the potential, they can really profit from expanding their customer base overseas, and for some it is how they ride the recession.”

However, Blackburn acknowledged that the smallest firms might struggle to find the resources to start exporting, adding:

“But if you have an appropriate and high-quality product or service, you should at least find out what information and advice is available so that you can take export opportunities when they arise.”

Small-business owner, Jane Field, founder of baby product retailer Jonny’s Sister, said that firms should not be deterred by export challenges.

“The survey respondents said they need face-to-face contact — Skype is free and is an excellent method of having face-to-face conversations with the customer. Coupled with cheap flights, competitive phone rates and good old email, it is a very viable way of growing your business. If you start with a country that you know a little about and then grow it from there you will find that it is not as daunting as you think it might be and the rewards can be very fulfilling.”

For more information on developing an export strategy read our in-depth business advice article on exporting or visit the UK Trade & Investment website

Just 2% of Small Businesses Plan to Start Exporting

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