Almost One Million Small Businesses Plan to Trade Overseas by 2025

Findings come despite small business export levels being the lowest they have been since the recession

Almost One Million Small Businesses Plan to Trade Overseas by 2025

880,000 small firms plan to expand overseas by 2025, making exporting the second biggest element to small business’ growth strategies, according to research by Everline and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) as part of its Small Business Tracker.

Despite ambitious export plans, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) data shows that small business exports are at their lowest rate since 2009 with 46% of companies having revealed that their export levels have fallen with many citing price constraints as the main cause.

Hiring more staff was found to be the preferred method of growth among small businesses, with 39% small firms naming recruitment as integral to their expansion plans.

Regarding exporting, responses varied according to region and industry. London-based businesses were the most likely to export in the next 10 years, with 30% planning to expand overseas; followed by companies in the Midlands (17%), South (13%) and North (11%).

IT and telecoms was found to be the biggest industry for exports at 29%, shadowed by manufacturing (26%) and media, marketing and PR (23%). In contrast, finance and accounting firms and retail businesses were the least likely to export at 7% and 14% respectively.

The research comes on the opening day of the UKTI-backed Export Week, which is a government-backed programme of seminars and workshops to encourage businesses to trade overseas.

Sam Alderson, an economist at Cebr, commented:

“The government has rightly highlighted the need to boost the UK’s level of exports. However, their target to increase annual exports to £1 trillion by 2020 looks likely to be missed by quite some way.

“While the increase in the number of small businesses looking to expand overseas is encouraging, the share remains relatively low. Given that tapping into the export potential of the UK’s small business community could provide a major boost to exports, encouraging small firms to look for opportunities overseas should remain a key priority in coming years.”

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