Exports: Untapped Potential

Even in a sometimes-challenging domestic economic environment, businesses could grow by exploiting opportunities in new overseas markets. Accessing these new markets can be complex, but the rewards can be worth the effort and risk. Consequently, a nation’s willingness to export might be a guide as to business and economic confidence.

Our latest survey, conducted with respondents from over 1,000 UK businesses, found that 66% of respondents don’t currently export goods or services at all. This is a high percentage, and yet, it suggests that the UK export market might have significant potential for growth. Especially as Brexit looks to create opportunities for UK businesses to trade with the EU and beyond.

Our survey suggests that one reason why UK SMEs aren’t exporting more could be because they feel there isn’t enough information available to help them trade overseas. Under 20% of our respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that businesses had access to sufficient guidance. With the untapped export potential in emerging markets set to exceed £40bn by 2030, this is a problem we should all work to overcome.  

We can unpack more around this theme if we dig deeper into the underlying demographics.

What the data suggests

Our survey indicated that London businesses export more than those in other cities 52% of London respondents currently export goods and services, compared to an average of 30% nationwide.

A reason for this could be the fact that locations like London may have a more established infrastructure, professional services, and trade links, meaning kickstarting exports could be easier and cheaper. It will be interesting to see how this potentially changes over the coming years, with technology potentially driving transportation costs down.

When it comes to finding resources that can help a company begin to export, it’s not just the location of a business which can dictate their attitude. The size of a company often comes into play too. Our survey revealed that more medium-sized businesses, comprised of between 50 and 249 employees, believe that there are the necessary resources on hand when compared to smaller and larger firms.

Conclusions we can draw

When dissecting the data, we begin to understand the UK export market in more detail. It seems that respondents in London believe they have more resources available to help them export overseas. Until more resources are made available for businesses of all sizes and in all locations, however, a reluctance to export among UK businesses could persist.

To learn more about how Growth Street can help businesses beginning to export, head to our GrowthLine page.

Our new survey, conducted with over 1,000 UK firms employing more than 10 staff, highlights the potential prevailing perceptions of UK businesses and underlines challenges faced by business leaders.

Read more about the results of our survey in our report. Download it for free here.


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Content Executive