Only 21% of small businesses in the UK are involved in exports for the last few years, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed. The UK business organisation which represents small and medium-sized businesses added that this figure matches with the 21% of small businesses that had revealed in their survey that they were interested in doing exports.
This, the FSB said, indicates the huge potential to double the number of UK small business exporters. The not for profit organisation said this could be achieved if the UK government, the private sector, the finance industry and business associations including FSB, "focus on providing effective targeted and tailored support".
The FSB, however, said in a press release there are various challenges. It said the biggest challenge for small businesses wanting to export is finding the right set of customers followed by marketing their products to the identified overseas customers. Other issues small firms are facing are lack of confidence in trading overseas, assuming that exports are not for them and not knowing where to go for support.
Martin McTague, FSB National Policy Director, said: "In addition to more traditional barriers such as language and foreign exchange, businesses are having to deal with a rapidly changing export landscape and the advantages and challenges brought about by e-commerce."
The FSB said exports would come with benefits. For instance, it said, the average annual turnover of an exporter is £935,921 (€1.12m, $1.23m), more than double the revenues of a non-exporter, whose average annual revenues stand at £390,028, indicating that exports would help small businesses increase their revenues.
On the Brexit vote, the report said while 93% of UK small business exporters are currently selling to clients in the European Union (EU), there are signs that new UK exporters are getting attracted to emerging markets especially in Asia and the Middle East. McTague added: "FSB has clearly and consistently called for clarity on what the UK's exit from the EU means for business, with particular emphasis on access to the single market and the free movement of people and trade."
He highlighted the dominance of the EU as an export destination for UK firms by saying: "The majority of FSB members export to the single market which provides access to 500 million potential consumers, more than 26 million businesses and is worth around £9tn."