The Straightforward Guide to Growing your Business
I admire anyone who is constantly looking at ways to grow their business, for most UK companies who are selling physical products one obvious way to grow is to start selling their items overseas by exporting.
Are you considering exporting your products overseas? If not, why not?
Why are you limiting yourself to just selling to the UK market? There is a big world out there, why not try and pursue new markets?
You need to explore the options available to help you begin your exporting journey.
So what options can you explore to try and grow your business by exporting?
A) Trade Shows
Start attending trade shows, both in the UK and abroad, network as much as you can and impress people, make that impression by displaying the items that you have to offer with trade stands or if funds are tight at least attend the shows and hand out business cards.
Your products need to speak for themselves, give demonstrations and free samples away.
It is important to attend trade shows in the UK as well as overseas, a lot of foreign companies send over reps to look for products here in the UK, having a presence here is just as necessary as having a presence at trade shows abroad.
Convince potential buyers why they need your products in their country, show them the benefits of working with you and how THEY can make money from the products that you have to offer them.
The Government offer assistance and advice for trade shows through the TAP programme.
Find out how the Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) can help promote your business overseas, and how to apply for financial support. By clicking here :
B) Website / Ecommerce store
It’s 2016, please tell me you have a website? If not, why not! You need an e-commerce store to sell your products overseas, the chances of a foreign buyer walking into your brick and mortar shop or factory are very slim. Get online with a website that lists all your items that you have for sale with a full inventory, this puts your company in the shop window on a worldwide basis, you can then also start to use the benefits of SEO and make sure that you regularly update your website with a blog using keywords etc. to draw in organic traffic from the internet.
Organic traffic is free and the search engines will love your website for well written, in-depth, original content on your website.
You can start a basic WordPress site for free, click here for more info.
If you are on a tight budget you can build from there, you can also use sites such as Amazon and Ebay to sell your goods on an economical basis.
C) Social Media
Another great option to explore along side your website is the use of social media, used correctly it can be a very powerful tool, think of Twitter, Facebook etc. as an extension of your website, but the important part mentioned is using it correctly, what do I mean by that? Do not keep shouting at the world by bombarding your followers with the products that you sell, tell a story with subtle tweets and posts, engage in conversations etc.
People get bored of seeing companies selling their products, tell them about your business on a more personal basis e.g. the business history, backgrounds on some of the staff that work for you etc.
Take some to join in conversations related to your industry, give away plenty of free advice and become a real influential voice in your sector.
D) Organised trips with UKTI – Market Visit Support
Have a particular country of interest that you would like to get your products into? Did you know that you can attend overseas trips to with UKTI know as Market Visit Support? they can really educate you on the local knowledge with the local representation as well as meetings with the local chamber of commerce etc. The trips can be arranged for individuals as well as an organised group.
You read more here on the how the trips work and what they entail :
These steps can really help you understand more about what is needed to make a start on your export journey, you can gain more knowledge on overseas markets and get insights on what is needed and which countries in particular that you might want to export to.
Research before attempting any exporting is very important, once you have gained more of an understanding about the process you will have gained more confidence and can then begin the exporting process.
After exploring the above options to generate interest in your company and the products you have for sale, hopefully you would have been able to generate some initial enquiries, with a bit of luck one will lead into a sale and you can then look at the possibility of starting to export your products overseas.
Remember it takes time for new business ideas to work, do not beat yourself up if you have not achieved an overseas sale in the first month of being on social media or after attending a trade show, it can take months for the orders to start to come through, you have been sowing seeds and you will at some point with hard work and dedication see the benefits.
If you are looking to just sell in the UK then you are holding your own business back, the foundations you can lay will reap rewards over time, the overseas trips, the hustle on social media, the SEO on your website etc. these small but constant steps will help you see real accelerated growth, to truly expand you will need to seriously consider exporting your products, then the potential to grow your business is enormous, the world is a small place now in terms of sales, there are billions of people on this planet and you never know, some of them might just want to purchase the items that you have for sale.
To grow your business on an international scale, you first need to look at your business model and take some steps back, you need to look at the reasons why you have not been exporting and how you can perhaps resolve them. Understand more about your own doubts and look for solutions.
Problem One aka “It all seems to complicated to start exporting”
Employ a freight forwarder to help you export, it’s like booking a holiday through a travel agent, let them do the hard work in terms of logistics and complete the shipping documentation, pay an expert for a service and leave it in their capable hands.
Problem Two aka “How will companies find my products?”
You need to sell your items through a website, if you are not online with an e-commerce store then how will you ever go forward, it’s 2016…we have already mentioned that you need an online presence. Well, you really do. It is vital that you have on most of the social media outlets and showing real innovation by coming up with unique ways for your business to be noticed.
Do not be scared to be original.
Problem Three aka “I do not understand local markets”
Speak to UK Trade and Investment. They have offices in most countries around the world, they can put your in touch with the relevant people that you need to speak to so you can obtain the local knowledge. As suggested already you can attend an organised overseas trip with them to gain understand of the local markets for your preferred countries that you wish to deal with.
Problem Four aka “Getting paid could be a problem”
It could be…but do not let it be,
Do not have put yourself in a position where you can become financially unsettled either by selling to someone in the UK or abroad, why offer credit from the outset? Either ask for full payment up front, a majority payment up front or an escrow agreement. Build up relationships and then look to offer credit IF needed. If your buyer is selling your products on quickly and making a profit then why would credit even be needed?
Problem Five aka “How I pack the items for export”
Make sure that they are packed as secure as possible, if you are using wood / timber etc. then check that the materials that you are using are allowed in the country of destination, it could cause a huge problem if untreated timber that have used for a pallet or crate arrives in the USA…the items could even be destroyed… If you are not sure then consider employing a professional packing company
You can keep asking more questions…are these just excuses or genuine problems? Either way you can resolve any issues or doubts that you have by getting organised and by contacting the right people who can assist you! Employee professionals who can not only help your business expand but can also make your life a lot easier!
So seriously consider growing your business by exporting, the doubts you have can be overcome and you take your company to the next level.
You have explored the options available to make overseas buyers aware of your products and company, you have received orders which have now been shipped overseas and fulfilled, hopefully your initial hard work is now paying off and your export orders are now moving out on a regular basis.
It all takes time…remember that.
Why not consider the possibility of expanding overseas and really try and drive your products into local markets abroad?
How about opening up an office in another country? or testing the water by having an official agent representing you who really understands the local knowledge, language etc. and get your products on more shelves in high street shops.
This type of move can really help shift more of your items overseas and can make your export orders grow.
A great way to test the water on a really economical level is by opening up stores on Amazon and Ebay etc. but in specific country’s e.g Amazon.cn the Chinese version of the site, if your products are popular through these channels it can you give the confidence to try and grow.
Take baby steps but always keep trying to move forward, never over stretch yourself on a personal or financial basis but the ability and possibility to grow is achievable if you stick to a long-term plan.
All the above suggestions are straightforward steps that any small business owner can incorporate into their long-term strategy, each suggestion is basic, economical and realistic.
If you really want to expand your business and have long term growth then you need to seriously consider the options involved in exporting.
You can take your business to another level, it takes bravery, confidence, understanding knowledge and time, be patient, sow your seeds and wait for the sun the to shine.