The time is now for British Business to be bold and consider exporting. HSBC's Head of Business and Corporate Banking, Global Trade and Receivables Finance UK, Lee Baty, describes a market full of opportunity for small businesses.
When it comes to exporting, there is a perception of increased risk that can put businesses off, but the opportunities that exist and the support on hand to help you start your export journey should not be ignored. Expanding your horizons beyond the domestic market gives you access to new consumers, can enhance your company's profile and exposes you to new ideas that could help drive growth and innovation.
The UK is full of outstanding entrepreneurs, but among potential exporters there is sometimes a fear of the unknown and a lack of awareness of the opportunities that exist around the world.
Exporting is a big step for a business of any size but my message is be brave and seize your opportunities. There is tremendous potential for growth beyond our borders and numerous examples of where UK companies have found success in international markets.
From a business exporting specialised mattresses to China to another providing engine parts for a fleet of locomotives on Sri Lankan Railways, we see examples every day of businesses seizing the demand for British goods and services.
It is, however, vital to do your research, on the internet, through government and the many other export promotion bodies. It is about identifying the right market where your goods or services are required, and targeting it.
If you can, visit your target markets. Make connections, speak to potential customers and understand the way the market works. Speak to those who have been successful there; seasoned exporters are often willing to share their experience both good and bad... Last year HSBC supported the Enterprise Nation Go Global campaign which saw small businesses visit cities such as Berlin, Amsterdam and New York to make new connections and open up their products to a whole new world of consumers.
It is clear that British companies have an excellent reputation for quality and innovation and we are world leaders in many sectors such as manufacturing and technology. We should think of Great Britain not just as the home of many iconic brands but also as an iconic brand itself. We should be celebrating `Brand GB' and building upon the current upbeat mood amongst business communities to drive our export success.
Supply chains are being reconfigured, and advances in transport technology and infrastructure have the capacity to open new trade corridors. In the coming years, three billion people will join the consumer class across the world and most will be in the emerging markets. They will in turn drive demand for infrastructure and housing, services and education, retail goods and consumer brands. British companies have an excellent reputation across all these sectors.
The challenge is to build confidence among smaller companies to find and grasp these opportunities. Together with the Government we can provide SMEs with the support, confidence and funding they require to be able to `think big'.
At HSBC, our priority in these changing times is to help our clients to understand the opportunities - and the challenges - of this increasingly complex world. We can offer our experience, gained over 150 years of helping businesses trade and providing access to our global network to exporters of all sizes. We have expert trade teams in more than 50 countries around the world giving us access to over 90 per cent of all world trade and capital flows. Above all, though, we can help connect you with the suppliers and customers that can help you succeed internationally.
As with any business venture, exporting is not without risk but thorough preparation, a strong network, and the right support, can help you venture into international markets with confidence.