So you want to explore a new market, but aren’t sure where to start…
Thanks to a nationwide drive to increase British exports, there is a huge amount of support out there for businesses like you – whether you need help understanding the law in Lagos, duties in Denmark or the enterprise etiquette in Estonia.
Here are five great export resources:
1. UK Trade & Investment
Think the government’s department for UK Trade & Investment is limited to London or even just Westminster? Then think again. With 40 offices across the UK, embassy teams in over 100 foreign markets, webinars, events and trade fairs, this invaluable yet free-to-access resource has helped thousands of businesses succeed at trading internationally.
Go to the UKTI website and you’ll find relevant(and jargon-free) market data, a breakdown of exporting trends by sector, and a ready-filled international contacts book. For inspiration and context are dozens of case studies – all backed up by recent statistical surveys – that clearly outline the benefits of trading oversees. Irrespective of what experience you have or don’t have of exporting, you can fill in a contact form and a UKTI expert will get back to you within just one working day. Or, if you prefer, pop down to your local UKTI office.
2. The Institute of Export
Directed by the friendly yet no-nonsense champion of UK exports, Lesley Batchelor, the IoE is the only professional body representing international trade. Its one-day ‘Introduction to Exporting’ courses start at a £360 excluding VAT, while the website’s ‘Help & Links’ page provides useful tips for newcomers and a 210-page e-guide on exporting.
Also handy is the website’s ‘Are You Ready to Export’ questionnaire. Twenty questions long, the short survey asks about your knowledge of exporting and the basic nature of your business and its products and services. Once you’ve completed the survey, an IoE expert will get in touch with advice on your suitability for trading overseas.
Meanwhile, members of the IoE enjoy greater access to professional qualifications, the Institute’s recruitment webpages, a network of IoE branches and a panel of individual experts on hand to give advice and guidance.
3. Santander’s Trade Portal
Determined to establish itself as the bank for international trade, Santander have focused time and resource in gaining a deep understanding as to what support companies need to help them start exporting. This has revealed a fundamental need amongst companies for help in simplifying and demystifying processes, removing the fear of trading abroad. As a result Santander have launched a bespoke microsite for clients promoting international trade called, quite simply, Santander Trade. This online portal is split into six user-friendly areas covering Markets, Counterparts, Shipments, Currencies, Banking and Establishing.
The portal contains a wealth of practical information ranging from market reports, information on how to find new business partners and contact details for specific importers and suppliers. Or it can be used as an information source to investigate new sectors, calculate shipment costs, or just get to know about all the international fairs and events in a specific sector. It also provides a platform where companies can connect to one another and establish business contacts.
Full access to the trade portal is available to Santander online banking clients. However, the portal’s demo version is open to all. It is well worth a visit as it gives a real flavor of some of the massive 10,000 pages of free country information, advice and contacts that Santander clients can access.
4. UK Business Forums and Import & Export Business Forum
Sometimes you just want to speak to someone like you.UK Business Forums is exactly that – peer-to-peer advice and knowledge sharing from businesspeople. Go online and ask questions about taxes, duties, customs, licences, regulatory compliance, export factoring, e-commerce – whatever you want, within reason! The beauty of this forum is that it’s well regulated and attracts an eclectic mix of businesspeople. You’ll find experienced manufacturers giving export advice to first-timers starting out on eBay.
Similar to UK Business Forums is the Import & Export Business Forum. While its focus is purely on export and import, questions and issues relating to importing can sometimes dominate the threads. That said, it’s worth taking a look, reading the responses and, when you’re ready, asking your question. Of course, once you’ve built up your own experience, you can log on and start answering the questions…
5. Open to export
This not-for-profit, government-funded platform provides insight and guidance to businesses at all stages of their exporting career. Visit Open to export and you’ll find Q&As, forums, events, webinars, articles, advice, useful contacts, business opportunities and tons more. Yet despite the breadth of resources available in one place, its simple and uncluttered design makes the website easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. You can browse the site by topics –e-commerce, finance, legislation and regulation, market research, operations, product development, transport &logistics – or by country or region.
Whether you’re just starting out and choosing new markets to explore, well-established, or even looking to become a supplier for the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games, you’ll find a wealth of trusted information. Despite being relatively new, Open to export is already bursting with excellent and trusted information, thanks to its support from the IoE, the Federation of Small Businesses and the UKTI.
This article was brought to you in association with Santander