Taking advantage of overseas markets to grow your business

By Jane Holmes, Project and Partnership Manager, Birmingham Science City

Companies must take advantage of the growing exports markets, according to the International Trade Advisor, Christine Hancock, at Venturefest West Midlands 2017.
Representing the Department for International Trade (DIT), Hancock led a lively and interactive session that explained how companies of all sizes are eligible for free, impartial and confidential advice from the DIT.

There is a dedicated DIT West Midlands Office to help companies to export and grow overseas. Their services, detailed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ukti-teams-in-the-english-regions/ukti-west-midlands-helping-companies-export-and-grow-oversea, include masterclasses, online training, tradeshow support and guidance on international communications. Further specialist support is available in market research, export finance, IP and online sales.

The export industry is increasing rapidly. More than a quarter of last year’s UK exports were by companies exporting for the first time, according to Hancock. The DIT has recently helped companies to export products in sectors as diverse as aerospace, animation, craft beers and medical technologies.
There are a range of factors that business leaders must consider when they are looking to export. In considering a location to trade with, companies must weigh up differing freight costs, package requirements, language barriers, currency costs, and local culture. Although this may seem complicated and risky, Hancock explained that exporting can bring new market share, new customers, and a higher profile for companies.

The DIT aims to make the transition into an exporting a company a smooth one, guiding businesses on information, research, and planning, including product and service tailoring. This is achieved through international trade advisors – such as Hancock – plus language and cultural advisers, and digital experts.
As a parting gift to guests, Hancock offered the sage words of James Dyson: “In the past, the UK got away with selling things that weren’t unusual. Now, it’s no use trying to export without having something that is unusual or better”. This means that there are particular opportunities for the innovative businesses that engage with Venturefest and the Birmingham Science City Alliance.
The West Midlands already records a strong exporting performance. It is the top exporting region in the UK outside of London and the South East, according to HM Revenue & Customs. Export businesses in the West Midlands grew by 12.3% in 2016, the highest of any UK region.

If you want to join this growing group of exporting companies in the West Midlands, the DIT West Midlands have events and support to help you. For more information, contact wmenquiries@mobile.trade.gov.uk or 0345 222 0159, or visit the website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ukti-teams-in-the-english-regions/ukti-west-midlands-helping-companies-export-and-grow-overseas.

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