The accidental exporter: How UK small businesses are going global

When I wrote the book ‘Go Global’ back in 2011, I interviewed more than a dozen exporters in order to share their trading tips and stories of success. Many of them referred to themselves as Accidental Exporters. They had taken to social media platforms and powerful marketplaces and, in so doing, had attracted customers and fans from across the globe. It proved the point that technology has been a key enabler when it comes to accessing new markets, and that entrepreneurs do not shy in the face of opportunity. Rather, they rapidly respond and learn as they go along.

Recent research from Citrix shows the trend towards crossing borders and international expansion is set to continue as today’s younger entrepreneurs feel the world is their oyster and tend to look global first, local second. As the findings indicate: ‘younger business owners may have friends across the world. They may buy as a consumer from other markets. Doing business with international markets holds less fear of the unknown for them’ with owners aged 25-45 being 50% more likely to trade with emerging markets than those aged 45 and over.

When it comes to preferred territories, while Europe and North America continue to dominate international trading relationships, at least one in 10 small businesses questioned state they are doing business outside of these markets, with 16% already trading with China.

Having seen China as a key market for expansion, Enterprise Nation is leading the Go Global 2015 Mission to Shanghai. From 15 to 18 October, we take 40 Great British businesses to meet experts and entrepreneurs as well as potential Chinese partners. The companies on the Mission will benefit from the experience and introductions, whilst we also host events, produce content and deliver webinars on the topic of ‘How to do business in China’ for those who can’t make the Mission. Who wouldn’t want to consider a market with 1.2 billion consumers, many of whom are increasingly looking for products and services with a Made in Britain badge.

In terms of making the most of the international trade opportunity, check if you’re already attracting international interest through Google Analytics which shows geographic origin of your visitors or international customers via sales coming through Amazon, eBay etc. To research the potential, consider approaching an International Trade Adviser via UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) www.ukti.gov.uk visit Open to Export http://opentoexport.com and make the most of Go Global content on Enterprise Nation www.enterprisenation.com.

UKTI has programmes tailored for small business such as Passport to Export and OMIS (Overseas Market Introduction Service) and your Adviser can offer the best options.

The future for exports looks bright as 28% of companies polled in the Citrix survey expect revenue from international sales to increase. With enabling technology at your disposal and growing consumer appetite in emerging markets, there’s never been a better time to Go Global!

Peter Jones - top tips for success

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About the author

Emma is founder of Enterprise Nation. Emma joined international accounting firm Arthur Andersen, before starting her own business in 2000, which was successfully sold two years later. Emma then launched Enterprise Nation and has since written a number of best-selling business books, including Spare Room Start-Up, Working 5 to 9, Go Global and the StartUp Kit. More blog posts by Emma Jones ››
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