Small businesses in the UK may be missing on billions in export revenue, according to a new report. World First has produced a survey that suggests that a potential £141.3 billion is going begging thanks to the ‘export gap’. That gap is produced by the fact that only 5 per cent of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have plans to investigate export opportunities in the next five years.
However, by trading their goods and services internationally the typical exporting SME added over £287,000 in revenue over the last 12 months with 9% of SME exporters also saying that exports had boosted their profits by more than 20 per cent
This means that even if only the 5% of UK SMEs looking to export in the next few years did so, they could add £33.7bn to UK GDP – a 6% boost to the overall level of exports from the UK economy in 2015.
Jonathan Quin, CEO and co-Founder of World First says that the value of export opportunities to the UK economy is enormous and so much more needs to be done for the UK to fulfil its potential as a trading nation.
‘But with only 5% of UK SMEs considering exporting over the next few years, it is clear that the UK’s SMEs need much more in terms of inspiration and support to seize the growth opportunities that exist in global markets.’
SMEs must be included in Brexit negotiations
Quin continues: ‘The fallout from the UK referendum has also brought about a significant amount of uncertainty for businesses but, if anything, it reinforces the importance of taking a global view and exploring new markets.
‘As the government’s Brexit negotiations take centre stage over the next few years, we would urge that SMEs are included and actively consulted throughout the process in order to ensure their views and needs are actively considered.’
So what’s stopping UK small businesses from chasing the export pound? According to World First, Language is the top barrier for SMEs looking to enter the Asia-Pacific region (23 per cent) and South America (21 per cent), and the fourth highest barrier for Africa and the Middle East (20 per cent). Similarly, culture is named as the biggest barrier for SMEs wanting to enter Africa and the Middle East (24 per cent).