Small businesses that export are more likely to survive, grow and innovate, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. In the UK, SMEs exported nearly £100 billion worth of goods and services in 2019. However, only one in 10 small businesses were selling their products overseas in the same year. “So why not join the club?”
Snack start-up Graze is just one example of a UK company that successfully expanded overseas. If you want your company to enjoy similar growth, you’ll need to overcome a different set of challenges. Get a head start by reading Azimo’s tips for expanding your business internationally.
Develop a strategy and business plan
Just like launching your company, expanding overseas should start with a business plan.
Each market has its nuances due to economic, cultural, governmental, and market conditions. It’s important to develop a localised strategy and business plan that fits your company’s overall objectives. Before going global, it’s critical to research several aspects, including:
- The size of the market you’re targeting.
- Your competition in that market.
- How you’ll market your product.
You’ll also need to learn about local legal and tax issues. Get thorough information about local laws, tax schemes, international agreements, regulated industries, and employment practices. It might be worth hiring an experienced market research firm to carry this out.
|Did you know? Many governments support overseas expansion by providing businesses with assistance. It’s a way of encouraging the exportation of locally-sourced products. Contact your local embassy, Chamber of Commerce, or trade mission for more details.|
Pay attention to export rules
While small orders can be sent by post, larger ones require a courier or freight forwarder. If you’re moving goods within the EU, check the new export rules after Brexit.
When exporting beyond the EU, find out about specific import rules and whether you need a licence. You will need a commodity code, which determines import duty payable. You’ll also need to give your business’s EORI number to your courier or freight forwarder.
They’ll ask you to complete a commercial invoice, stating the commodity code, which must be attached to your consignment. Your courier or freight forwarder will use your commercial invoice to make an official customs declaration.
|EORI stands for European Operators Registration and Identification number or code. It’s assigned by HMRC or equivalent bodies to track goods across Europe.|
If your products are made with materials sourced from overseas, you’ll also need to understand import rules post-Brexit. Most businesses use a courier when importing goods in volume. If they come from within the EU, you’ll normally need a commodity code to give to the courier for each consignment. Your business will pay VAT (at UK rates), but not import duty on goods produced in the EU.
Choose a reliable money transfer provider
If you’re looking for a fast, cheap, and reliable service, use a dedicated digital money transfer provider like Azimo Business. From buying products to paying freelancers overseas, you’re going to need to work in multiple currencies.
You can convert and send money to over 60 currencies to around 195 countries and territories. With an award-winning app and a dedicated account manager, you can start sending in minutes.
Speak your customer’s language
Adopting multilingual content can help make it easier to conquer overseas markets. Many internet users don’t understand English, so being able to reach them should be a priority when you’re developing content.
After all, your marketing is more likely to convert if it’s delivered in the language of your consumers. The ability to understand information on your product has a big influence on consumers’ purchase decisions.
With this in mind, ensure you have a multi-lingual team or freelancers in place. Your customer-facing teams, including sales representatives and support, should be able to communicate with local customers effectively.
Build influencer relationships in overseas markets
Look for influencers in the markets you’re interested in and develop a relationship with them before you begin expansion. As these relationships grow, consider whether they’ll make for good partners or mentors to help you capture that market.
These relationships will be key when you make the initial leap overseas. Check out Azimo’s report on why small businesses are embracing influencer marketing.