Many small businesses in the UK feel that global trading is just for big business but the weakness of the pound and the appetite for British products and services especially in emerging markets, makes it an excellent time for companies to start moving out of their comfort zone and begin developing trading relationships with global markets.
Here are five great tips to inspire business owners to get started:
1. Embrace differences
Many people worry about the cultural issues involved when working with a company based in a different country. It’s always wise to be sensitive to cultural differences, but don’t let those differences put you off getting in touch. And don’t forget that whilst we are fortunate that English is the global language for business, there are also some great translation tools to help you.
2. Get your finances straight
Get specialist advice on the financial aspects like the tax implications of importing and exporting and make sure this is factored into the price you can afford to pay and charge as the onus is always on the business owner to be up to date with all paperwork. Be sure to clearly agree payment terms before any transaction takes place.
3. Know your exchange rates
The depreciation of sterling has boosted exporters’ profits as firms have not passed all of the fall in the pound on to their buyers. This remains a good reason for firms to enter the UK export market. But when agreeing prices with suppliers, remember that exchange rates can fluctuate hourly.
4. Safety first
As you would when dealing with any new business contact, do some research. Check the background of the company. Are they members of a trade association or do they have any kind of verification/certification for the products they are developing? Do a credit check. Are they happy for you to speak to references? Beware of companies who just have a PO box or where the phone always goes to voicemail during the country’s standard working hours – bear in mind you may have to get up during the night to try this!
5. Make a plan to get your goods where they need to go
Factor in the time needed to export and plan accordingly. Don’t overpromise. You could consider working with an export professional to manage the process for you, especially if this is something you intend to start doing more frequently. Ensure either you or your supply chain partner has insurance in place to cover the goods whilst they are in transit.