The current coalition government has created a new scheme to help 7,000 British SMEs enter export markets via e-commerce. Business Secretary, Vince Cable, announced the development of a global network of business-to-businesses support resources to help UK SMEs attract foreign interest and grow their client base.
The scheme – Grow Online, Expand Worldwide – is being run by UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) and is primarily trying to put SMEs in contact with potential clients in growing markets such as India, the UAE and China.
Why Does the UK Need SMEs to Export?
Every SME – from foam rubber suppliers to wetsuit designers, fashion label to luxury notepaper brand – has a place in export markets. And it’s all about capitalising on new clients and solidifying the UK economy via international links. Think of SMEs as fine spider-web strands reaching from their UK base to various global clients. The more strands, the stronger the web.
What Will the Campaign Offer SMEs?
The UKTI campaign will deliver training, funding and advice to small businesses looking to enter the export markets online. Focus will be placed on mobile technology, making good use of emerging markets and using free marketing tools like social media to find new clients in the global pool.
Online tutorials – webinars – on how to run an online export business will be made available to around 4,000 fledgeling SMEs. Master classes will run for selected SMEs (around 1,200 of them) and 600 UK small businesses will receive help registering their products on international selling websites, offering multilingual commerce support and opportunities. The scheme is set to start in 2014.
How Can an SME be International and Profitable?
According to research by Experian, around 900,000 UK small businesses currently satisfy the criteria proposed to enter export markets. The north of Britain ranked highest in terms of the percentage of SMEs analysed that are currently in a position to export but are not doing so.
The Future of Export for SMEs
It’s great to see SMEs entering the global export markets. Many make their mark by offering unique processes and products – filling niche gaps – to international markets. In time, a strong client base can help these SMEs grow into large firms with strong ties to the UK and influence in export markets.
Whether it’s a UK foam exporter offering overseas beginning-to-end product development services or a clothing label finding a niche market in another country, encouraging UK SMEs to cross the pond and spread their brand is a great way to boost the UK economy. The economy is now growing at its fastest rate in three years, offering a more stable market for fledgeling SMEs and established small businesses with exports in mind.
Libby Carins works in marketing and contributes to several marketing and product blogs, including Technical Foam Services. She’s an advocate of making credit more readily available to UK SMEs to help boost economic recovery.