Despite the continued uncertainty surrounding the UK’s role within Europe, a growing number of SMEs say that international trading is set to be the key driver in their growth plans.
Telecom provider EE published its SME International Ambition research this week, and revealed that 40% of small businesses say they are currently engaged in international trade. Added to that, a further 6% intend to do so by 2021.
US and Europe focus of SME plans
In terms of where America and Western Europe are the top target markets for small businesses in the UK – 55% of small firms said they were looking to expand in the US while 82% said they were currently trading with, or planning to trade with, Western Europe.
Lydia Hicks, director of SME product marketing at BT said: “UK SMEs show no signs of holding back on their international business ambitions, whether at home or abroad.”
The research also showed where SMEs were most focused on to grow their business.
- After Western Europe and the USA, the Nordics is the third most popular growth market, with 44 per cent of SMEs currently or with plans to operate internationally saying they’re targeting the region
- Asia and Eastern Europe are the fourth and fifth top growth markets, each with 42 per cent, while one third (33 per cent) are targeting Australia and New Zealand
- 22 per cent currently or plan to trade with South America, and 21 per cent currently trade with or are aiming to trade with South Africa
- Northern Africa was revealed to be the market SMEs are least likely to be targeting for growth, as just 15 per cent of SMEs saying they currently or plan to trade with it
- Manufacturing (71 per cent), media and marketing (67 per cent) and IT/telecoms (43 per cent) are the industries most likely to be trading or planning to trade abroad
- Additionally, 40 per cent said that they are currently trading internationally, while a further six per cent plan to do so within the next five years