More small businesses looking to export

More small companies than ever are looking to export goods and services, according to a study by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Research from the FSB’s quarterly business index finds that a net balance of 24 per cent 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, says the lobbying group.

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 per cent are aware of the services UKTI offers, claims the FSB.

The group’s recent survey of nearly 9,000 small businesses found that the sectors most likely to export are manufacturing (42 per cent), wholesale trade (41 per cent), research and development (36 per cent), engineering (34 per cent) and digital/telecoms businesses (25 per cent).

Another recent FSB report found the main barriers to exporting were fluctuating exchange rates (35 per cent), difficulty finding customers (24 per cent), and a lack of finance/working capital (23 per cent).

FSB national chairman John Allan says that small businesses will have a major part to play if the government is to meet its challenging targets for 100,000 new exporters and to double the value of exports by 2020.

‘Starting to export is a big step for small firms,’ he adds. ‘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.’

Allan says that 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.’

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