Passport to success

Nicole Matues

Nicole Matues, Sage International Payments Team

Many businesses keen to increase their sales choose to expand overseas – but trading in new international markets creates a range of issues that every business must consider.

But the prospect of marketing your own business overseas needn’t be daunting – as long as you’re fully prepared. There’s a wealth of support and information out there to help you avoid the pitfalls and make the most of your time and expertise.

Expert advice

One of the first ports of call for anyone looking to sell overseas is UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). UKTI works with 21,000 companies every year, 90% of which are smaller businesses, and many of whom are considering exporting for the first time.

Its Passport to Export programme provides training, planning and support, including six days of one-to-one mentoring and advice on how to seek funding. It also acts as an intermediary by putting potential exporters in touch with the embassy or consulate in their target country, which could help to identify partners there.

Raising your game

One very strong reason to move overseas is that it can often have a beneficial effect on your existing business. “Research has shown that companies who export actually raise their game and make themselves more recession proof in their home markets,” says Dominic Jermey, Managing Director of UKTI Sectors Group.

However, Jermey advises that companies should closely examine their reasons for wanting to go overseas “there are always some firms who think about exporting because they’re struggling in their existing market, but if a product or service can’t stand alone on its home turf then it’s unlikely to succeed in the same markets overseas.”

Do your homework

British Chamber of Commerce Managing Director, John Dunsmore says it’s vital to do your homework before embarking on exporting.

“Find out what’s required at the outset, and make sure you understand the rules of engagement, particularly issues like duties and paperwork.

“Make sure you find out how your product or service might need to be adapted for export and what regulations must be complied with.

“Also get advice on the exchange rate,” says Dunsmore. “In difficult economic times, a good understanding of how fluctuations in exchange rates will affect profitability and pricing is vital.”

It also pays to do your homework on exchange rates if you’re paying foreign suppliers as well. Sage International Payments is a new multiple currency payment service that can help you save time and money.

Delivered in conjunction with our partner TransferMate, Sage International Payments offers you better exchange rates than the bank, low transfer fees and faster payments compared to any bank or foreign exchange company in the UK.

Where to go?

For a small company, where budgets are tight, which part of the world to pick could be a vital decision. You can dip a toe into the water on your own by visiting trade fairs in these local markets.

“Tailor your communication to suit potential customers,” advises Dunsmore. “And don’t over commit. Focus your efforts on one market at a time, and prioritise according to both short-term opportunity and long-term potential.

“And make the most of the advice out there. Expert support through every stage of the export process is invaluable, and in many cases, it could make the difference between success and failure.”

Nicole Matues, Sage International Payments Team