Exports have been highlighted by the government as a way for UK small businesses to target growth and expansion during the lean economic climate we’re still experiencing. And, thankfully, a survey commissioned by the Institute of Export has shown that demand for UK products is fuelling export growth, making it a useful barometer for the health of the export market in the UK.
Strong UK Exports
More than 50% of the 1,800 businesses interviewed say exports make up more than half of their turnover, though this survey did include larger businesses and those with turnovers in excess of £1m were displaying the best growth.
One of the biggest barriers to accessing this growth potential was a lack of bank funding. As such, 66% of those taking advantage of this export trend were having to dip into their own savings in order to grow. You would expect that this is particularly true for smaller businesses – and indeed, those with turnovers below £5m were finding it hardest to access any kind of funding, whether from the banks or from government grants.
50% of the respondents to the survey came from the manufacturing and engineering sectors, with 65% of these actively trading with international markets. The top areas for export growth include Europe, China, India, North America, the Middle East, Russia and Brazil. More than 85% sell directly to buyers, and more than half have a specific export strategy in place.
This is all a good barometer for the health of UK exports and it shows that there is scope for growth in this area for smaller businesses to take advantage of. Despite the gloomy economic outlook, there are still ways to grow and recover.
Looking into alternative means of finance can be an option – especially invoice finance, which can help to release customer payments tied up in unpaid invoices. This is especially true for small businesses who might have too tight a cash flow to consider exports. Just because the banks or the government don’t want to finance you export plans doesn’t mean they’re completely out of reach.