Latest research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) shows that more small businesses than ever are looking to export goods and services. Findings from the FSB’s quarterly business index found that a net balance of 24 percent of FSB members expect exports to rise in the next three months.
With the UK’s current account deficit reaching an all time high at the end of 2013, it’s more important than ever to narrow the export gap and small firms have a key part to play. To encourage and support more firms to export, the FSB wants UKTI to focus on tailoring and promoting their products and services to small and micro businesses and to raise awareness of the support on offer. Even among members who currently export, only 50 percent are aware of the services UKTI offers. In the longer term this would involve a move towards a Small Business Export Support Department within a UK Small Business Administration (SBA).
The FSB’s recent survey of nearly 9,000 small businesses found that the sectors most likely to export are Manufacturing (42 percent), wholesale trade (41 percent), research and development (36 percent), engineering (34 percent) and digital/telecoms businesses (25 percent). Another recent FSB report found the main barriers to exporting were fluctuating exchange rates (35 percent), difficulty finding customers (24 percent), and a lack of finance/working capital (23 percent).
John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, says starting to export is a big step for small firms says they therefore need tailored advice and support which will allow them to overcome the barriers to exporting that have been repeatedly identified by our surveys: “There is also a major job to be done to raise awareness of the support UKTI offers small firms thinking of starting the export journey.
“The UK’s export strategy must focus on matching a company’s export potential to the right overseas market. The majority of our members still export to the Eurozone but are increasingly looking to other dynamic markets such as China for opportunities.”