Kelly Hoppen MBE kicks off British Export Week with a list of Top Tips on ‘Exporting a Business Abroad’. As a proud ambassador of the GREAT Campaign and whilst working closely with UKTI over the years, Kelly not only promotes Quintessentially British brands abroad but is also an extremely successful exporter herself.
1. Research, research, research
Contact UKTI and use the expert international trade advisors (ITAs) to help you research your target markets and potential customers.
Have a business plan and the necessary capital. Talk to your bank and UK Export Finance (UKEF), the government’s export finance provider, well in advance. If pitching to an investor they’ll care more about how you’re going to a) get to revenue, b) scale it over the first year, and c) retain those customers. Plan your responses in advance.
3. Meeting with investors
When preparing to pitch to an investor, it’s important to know your pitch inside and out, and have multiple lengths stored in your brain. This doesn’t mean learning it by rote but practice the content and deliver it confidently. Include your learnings in your investor pitch. Investors like to see the market research you’ve done. Wherever possible, include positive testimonies from real customers.
Take part in overseas events, trade fairs or missions to test markets, attract customers, appoint agents or distributors and make sales. UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) Trade Access Programme provides grants to companies to attend trade shows and missions worldwide.
5. Know the currency
Understand the currencies you will need to deal with. Talk with your foreign exchange provider early, as they can give you insights into the potential currency risks.
6. Start small
It’s tempting to pursue multiple markets. Don’t. Begin by focusing on one or two markets.
7. Seek out support and advice
There are several organisations that are dedicated to supporting overseas trade – such as UKTI, UKEF and Chambers of Commerce, as well as specialists in banks, law and accountancy firms. Their support will be crucial. Seek support from your peers too – deliver your pitch to a friend and ask them to pose the tricky questions to you so that you are fully prepared.
8. Appreciate cultural differences
Failure to take account of different cultures can lead to damaging and costly mistakes. This could range from causing offence by not observing correct protocol to inappropriate packaging and marketing.
9. Get paid
It’s easy to overlook the risk of non-payment. Establish the credit rating of potential clients and guard against non-payment through letters of credit or credit insurance. UKEF can provide advice and insurance where the private market can’t help.
10. Be patient
It won’t happen as quickly as you anticipate. Local customs and legislation can slow things down.