[Comment] DHL Express CEO on How to Tackle the Real Life Challenges of Exporting

By Phil Couchman, CEO, DHL Express

Despite the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics revealing that the UK’s trade deficit hit £9.4bn in June, small businesses in the UK remain positive and the government’s export target of £1tn by 2020 is still very possible.

According to the latest BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index, UK SMEs continue to feel confident about future turnover, with 70 percent of UK exporters believing that their turnover will increase in the next 12 months.

In addition, exporting activity in Q2 reached the highest level on record, demonstrating the huge demand for British goods overseas.

Thorough research and an in-depth plan before any foray into overseas markets are both essential to success, and following the guidelines below can also help SMEs to overcome some of the most common barriers to exporting:

Remember the benefits

International appetite for Brand Britain shows no signs of stopping, with the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow meaning that the world’s eyes are on the UK once more.

The UK is also currently the second most popular shopping destination for online shoppers overseas according to Nielsen, which demonstrates that it’s key for small businesses in the UK to have a strong online presence. In July, DHL committed a further £156 million to its UK infrastructure by 2016, which further proves its commitment to the UK market.

All companies that trade internationally are impacted by currency markets, regardless of size or success record, but the benefits of exporting regularly outweigh the risks.

Research suggests that companies exporting internationally are twice as likely to outstrip their counterparts that only stay in the domestic market. It’s therefore important to remember the long-term business plan when it comes to exporting, and focus on the benefits that it can bring.

Employing the export curve

Using the tried-and-tested export curve is something that we advise all fledgling exporters to use, which involves starting with well established, English-speaking markets such as America and Australia.

There are great benefits to starting your export journey with these territories, as they have relatively easy customs to navigate and many cultural similarities to the UK. By starting with English-speaking markets, businesses can grow in confidence before progressing to more challenging areas.

Seek help and advice

It is essential to seek advice before setting out to export and great deal of work, by both the government and independent bodies, has already been done to aid businesses looking to expand overseas.

There is a plethora of advice available, which includes the UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) Overseas Market Introduction Service tool and the British Chambers of Commerce training services, which both offer independent advice to SMEs.

DHL Express also offers help and advice to all businesses looking to grow internationally, and has a dedicated team of export advisors on hand to help small businesses begin their exporting journey.

For more information, please visit http://dhlguide.co.uk/talk-to-us/ or call our Export Advisor hotline on 0844 248 0675.

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