Could your business successfully sell overseas? Taking this strategic step is certainly daunting. You’ll have to investigate new markets, meet the needs of fresh new customer bases and invest in the infrastructure to deliver overseas.
But, according to Experian, there are some 900,000 businesses in the UK that have real potential to start exporting and yet they are still only serving the UK market at the moment.
To identify these businesses, Experian analysed over 40,000 UK companies that are currently exporting and it has built up a profile of these firms in order to better understand what an exporting business actually looks like.
The key characteristics identified by Experian include:
Experian took this model and mapped it across the entire UK business population to uncover which companies have many of the identified characteristics — and, therefore, the potential to export — but are not reporting any export turnover.
Almost 900,000 businesses fitted this description. Your business could be one of them.
Max Firth, UK managing director for Experian’s Business Information Services division, said: “When you consider that of the known exporting population, the average amount of turnover attributed to exporting is approximately 50%, the companies identified could potentially double their income capacity by exporting.”
The Experian analysis revealed that six of the top ten locations with a large population of potential exporters are in Scotland. Three more are in London.
The location with the most potential is Aberdeen — this high-tech city has the highest proportion of businesses in the UK (26.7%) that could fit the profile of an exporter and yet don’t currently sell overseas.
Manufacturers and wholesalers were found to export more than others. However, Experian’s research found that many more firms in these sectors could successfully export. This includes firms that manufacture electrical equipment, manufacturers of household and office equipment and those in food and textiles.
One thing’s for sure, if you want to export you need robust business analysis and market data. This latest research could help many firms that are undecided about exporting to finally take the plunge.
Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut.
Following the success of Export Week in May, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will be running regional events from 11-15 November encouraging businesses to increase their export activity, with the ExploreExport road show visiting eight English regions.
In support of the week, we’ve gathered together free resources — including guides, articles, checklists, blogs, tools and case studies, all aimed at businesses that want to sell more to customers overseas.
In a global economy, no industry stands alone. Each one is tied together through a network of energies, influences and economies, no matter what or where they are. Today, even wildly different industries aren’t quite as far removed as people might think.
This interconnection of markets and industries can create complementary strategies and synergies across business sectors, even if people don’t see them at first glance. That’s why expanding your business into another industry — especially one that seems distant from the one you’re in now — can create unexpected combinations that result in new, untapped potential.
The world might seem big, but it’s getting smaller every day thanks to the rapid exchange of knowledge and information. And that means that you can master the intricacies and obscurities of any industry on the globe faster than ever before — even if it’s one that you’ve never touched before.
Even so, when you’re preparing to forge into a completely new industry, it might feel like you’re trekking into unknown territory without a map. Remember the multitude of things you already do know: how to market effectively, strategically deliver goods or ensure top-level service. When we started a brewing company, we had no idea how to actually make beer, but we did know how to market and sell it. We knew we could make a profit because of our work with challenger brands. Applying your knowledge and business experience to a new industry can allow you to see things differently than your competitors do.
You’re not alone in this strategy, either. Larger companies are always on the prowl for acquisitions, mergers, and expansion opportunities. (That’s why Microsoft moved into electronics and game consoles and why IBM expanded from software, hardware, and personal computers into consulting.) But for a small business without big resources, it’s a little tougher. Start simple: Watch market trends in an industry that you’re interested in. Then, if it’s the right time and the right opportunity, seize it.
So, when is the right time to begin your journey? Simply put: If you’re trying to eliminate risk entirely, there’s no such thing as a “right” time. But there are several precautions you can take before leaping into a foreign market. Here are a few:
There’s another important factor to consider, too. If you’re expanding into a market that’s new to you, choose one that you’re passionate about. You’ll be devoting a large amount of time and energy into this new venture, and expanding into a new industry is an even bigger risk if you’re doing it half-heartedly. Make sure it’s something you love — and something that complements your current employees’ interests and talents, too.
Now that you’ve got two businesses working in tandem, you can begin to see how they influence each other and make each other stronger. Part of this flow of energy and power begins with your employees: Start by using the talent in both your businesses to help each other. This way, you can maximize your talent pool and resources and give your employees a chance at fresh, new work for an exciting project.
You’ll also begin to see your leadership team growing stronger, too. Why? Working in two industries at once makes it easy to see connections between trends and best practices in every company.
Running two businesses doesn’t mean that you have to personally take on every facet of responsibility. It’s smart to have an overarching management team for both ventures, but it’s also smart to have separate leadership for each business. Having someone to lead day-to-day operations and guide future growth ensures you won’t overlook that industry’s individual nuances and quirks.
Making your mark on a new, fast-growing industry can infuse new life into your business, but you have to make sure that you, your leadership team and your employees are all fully devoted to your new endeavor. Often, you’ll find that an insightful approach and a fresh perspective is the secret to success — and the secret to building synergy between two businesses that might not be so different after all.
Ideas are in abundance. We all know people with passion, vision, ambition and a real desire to make a difference with their new ventures.
It’s been an honour for everyone involved in my organisation, Entrepreneurial Spark, to assist more than 300 start-ups, to help them realise their goals and turn some of these ideas into business. However, in this time we have also seen some stumble and their ideas dissolve away. Lack of effective execution is the number one reason for this, in our experience.
So what are the Top 20 business founders' fundamentals to enable successful transition from idea to business?
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014 [next year’s Commonwealth Games]. He has a deadline that cannot slip. He can’t shift the whole schedule a couple of days because of unforeseen circumstances or because “it’s not perfect yet”. He must execute with precision and his team are totally aligned to this goal. If we want success and a legacy, we must behave the same way.
Blog supplied by Brian McGuire, co-founder of Espark.
Think of all the prints the average start-up produces... Flyers to advertise, letterheads, invoices, signs, the list goes on. You may think nothing of it when you phone up your local printer and order hundreds of letterheads, but in reality, it’s another big cost that you could cut.
If you have a printer, why not print it yourself? Most people would never consider purchasing a laser jet printer, but the truth is good mono laser jets are now available from about £70, with full colour versions starting at slightly more than the £100 mark.
With a great range of compatible cartridges available, there’s no need to over-spend on consumables either. Very quickly you can have a great quality setup for small money – and start looking at how to produce the collateral without breaking the bank…
You’ve got the hardware, you just need the designs and you’re ready to print. Maybe you already have the designs from a previous batch? If so, the job will be pretty straightforward. If not, then here are a few tips to get you started
If you know somebody, friend or family member, who’s good with design, ask them to do you a favour or at least a ‘mate’s rate’ discount. They should be willing to knock off a few pounds.
You may discover secret talents or previous experience among your employees, so as long as you’re not sacrificing other workloads, ask those you work with whether they have any design experience or ability.
Why not have a play around with some designs yourself? These days, internet forums and tutorials can teach you the basics in almost anything. Remember, there’s always time for re-design later, so just go for it and enjoy the experience!
As soon as you take this approach to costs, you will soon find yourself saving much more than you thought. But not only that, you’ll find yourself making smarter business decisions – looking for the cost-effective, easily attainable quality solutions.
Blog by Gary Flynn, managing director of TonerGiant.co.uk, supplier of toner cartridges and ink cartridges.
I once heard Sir Bob Geldof telling a conference that “you can’t do it all, but you can do your best’, and it inspired me to create my own corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy for my business.
There’s never enough time or money to do everything you want to do, but you should not use that as an excuse for not doing anything at all. If money is tight, businesses can donate their time and core services to their chosen charities.
Your expertise might lie in accounting, baking or magic tricks – it doesn’t matter. Someone somewhere will appreciate your skills and this will be the most effective contribution you can make.
We adopted Friends for Leisure as our corporate charity in 2008, it’s a voluntary organisation in Cheshire that helps children and young people with disabilities, and they do great work. We provide them with all of their outsourced IT solutions, as well as organising regular fundraising initiatives.
It’s not only your services that will benefit your charity. Inevitably, corporate sponsorship of non-profit organisations raises PR opportunities and the profile of the charity rises (as well as that of your business).
Although I identified the cause I wanted my business to support, there would be no way I could pursue anything without my team’s support. By getting ‘buy-in’ from my staff I not only ensured that we could achieve a meaningful charity programme, but also that we created greater team spirit and camaraderie within the business.
Most charity events have PR value for business that are involved with them and many find that their clients/customers love to get involved too. Choose events that not only benefit the cause, but also your clients/customers, staff and other people to whom you wish to connect.
Motivating staff can be difficult at the best of times, but those who get involved with giving will also be more willing to give more to their day job and you’ll find that they buy into the ethos and culture of the business.
Blog supplied by Gary David Smith, co-founder of Prism Total IT Solutions, provider of Cloud and managed IT services to UK SMEs (and the Friends For Leisure charity).
So you’ve decided to set up your own business. Once the initial jubilation and feeling of liberation passes, trepidation creeps in, as you begin to question whether you’ve made the right decision and where on earth do you even start?
Being fairly new to the market ourselves, we were in that exact position just over a year ago and know how baffling even building a to-do list can be. If you’ve never done it before, how can you possibly know everything that needs to go on the list?
Surprisingly, one of the big ‘must-haves’ for any person starting out on their own is actually missing from most to-do lists – insurance. Simon Durkin, a senior associate at law firm DWF Fishburns, spoke to us about some of the cases he’d worked on when new entrepreneurs have ended up in difficulties, because they hadn’t quite realised the risks involved in being their own boss.
A number of the claims he’d handled recently were against “mumpreneurs” who had (accidentally) sent USB sticks infected with viruses to clients. This resulted in damage to one client’s computers and put sensitive data about their customers at risk.
if you don’t have the necessary insurance, this kind of incident – which can easily result in legal action - could be enough to stop your new business dead in its tracks.
Whatever your start-up is, you need to make sure you thoroughly research what insurance is needed. With an increase in the number of new businesses started in the UK in 2012 – reaching more than 500,000 – and with about 230,000 businesses across the UK having no insurance cover in place (according to research published by insurance broker LV=), too many start-ups are vulnerable to liability claims, hefty fines and even prosecution – all of which seriously scupper growth.
The best place to start is to take a deep breath and familiarise yourself with the different types of insurance available to business – and the insurance industry’s jargon. Read about professional indemnity insurance (which protects you in the event of professional negligence claims), public liability insurance (which helps if a member of the public is hurt as a result of your business activities), and employers liability insurance (which you must have if you employ people, including contract workers, apprentices and even volunteers).
Once you’ve got your head around those, move onto the business insurance policies that protect you from unlikely but catastrophic events - business interruption Insurance, and key man insurance.
It’s a notoriously complex area, so if you’re still unsure, talking to an insurance broker who specialises in arranging insurance cover for businesses will help. It’s easy to find brokers on the internet and even get a quote tailored to your business needs online – but if you can get a recommendation from someone in your network, so much the better.
Finally, if you’re a member of a professional association, it’s also worth looking into what support they provide. Often they have considered the needs of their members and put a package in place.
Blog supplied by Steven Mendel, CEO and co-founder of Bought By Many, the company that “helps people club together to get a better deal on their insurance”.