Going global is the key to growth

Many small business managers are convinced that exporting is crucial to the country’s economic growth.

Many small business managers are convinced that exporting is crucial to the country’s economic growth.

It seems that many small business managers believe exporting could be the key to the country’s economic growth.

Chancellor George Osborne’s Comprehensive Spending Review saw him pledge to reduce the public sector deficit by £83 billion by 2014/15, creating additional pressure on the embattled UK economy.

Earlier this year, the-then Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable described British export figures as ‘deeply alarming’ after UK exports took their biggest plunge in more than three years in January.

That’s hardly surprising, given the long-term decline and neglect of British manufacturing, but it needn’t be all doom and gloom. According to a report by US advisors, Boston Consulting Group, British ‘e-exports’ are soaring, with the UK sending abroad £2.80 of e-commerce goods and services for every £1 that is imported.

Others agree that exporting doesn’t have to be about manufacturing in the traditional sense. Neal Gandhi, CEO of office provider Quickstart Global, says: ‘In the UK we’re really well positioned to sell services such as design, R&D, business support and innovation around the world. There is huge potential for entrepreneurs who can think and act globally and these will be the ones to watch.’

But is that enough? Shouldn’t Britain be a bit more ambitious? Jim Watson, CEO of luxury goods retailer Appleby Parva says: ‘We are busy navel gazing, agonising over a few billion pounds here and there, while the rest of the world focuses on finding markets for their products and then selling to them.’

Rich Wagner, CEO of prepaid credit card provider APS Group, adds: ‘I think the UK should take more advantage of the European Union and try and leverage some of the products it has into those countries. There needs to be greater reciprocity of free trade between the likes of Germany, France and the UK where we have mutually beneficial products.’

The statistics show that Britain has a long way to go. Exports to France dropped from £18.7 billion in 2008 to just under £18 billion in 2009, while German trade suffered more with a drop from £28.4 billion in 2008 to £24.7 billion in 2009. At the moment, the US is the biggest single market for Britain’s exports, with a value of £33.5 billion for 2009, with total UK exports of some £226 billion.

However, the only nations that have increased their trade from Britain year on year over the past three years are China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and, anomalously, Canada. China has an average annual growth rate of 16.6 per cent in relation to British exports, far eclipsing the percentage of other nations.

The figures show Far Eastern promise for our exports, but there won’t be assistance to get our products there – entrepreneurs will have to make it under their own steam. Dan Sullivan, founder of business consultant Strategic Coach says: ‘The best entrepreneurs will not look for help from the government nor heap blame on the economy. They will make the necessary changes and innovate to adapt their business, regardless of the financial climate.’

Let’s hope this innovation is felt beyond our shores to bolster the UK’s ailing coffers for a long time to come.

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