SMEs look to export

More small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) than ever intend to export goods and services, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The FSB's quarterly business index has found that a net balance of 24 per cent of FSB members expect exports to rise over the next quarter.

The survey of 9,000 businesses found that the sectors most likely to export are:

  • manufacturing (42 per cent)
  • wholesale trade (41 per cent)
  • research and development (36 per cent)
  • engineering (34 per cent)
  • digital and telecoms firms (25 per cent).

In a separate report, the FSB found that the main obstacles for businesses wanting to export are:

  • fluctuating exchange rates (35 per cent)
  • difficulty finding customers (24 per cent)
  • lack of finance (23 per cent).

The FSB is calling on UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to provide more support to exporting SMEs. John Allan, national chairman of the FSB, said:

"Small businesses will have a major part to play if the Government is to meet its challenging targets for 100,000 new exporters and to double the value of exports by 2020. Starting to export is a big step for small firms. They therefore need tailored advice and support which will allow them to overcome the barriers to exporting that have been repeatedly identified by our surveys. There is also a major job to be done to raise awareness of the support UKTI offers small firms thinking of starting the export journey.

"The UK's export strategy must focus on matching a company's export potential to the right overseas market. The majority of our members still export to the eurozone but are increasingly looking to other dynamic markets such as China for opportunities."