Why Don’t More Small Businesses Export?

Government policies help small businesses to export as a way to create jobs and grow the economy. Many small businesses avail of the support provided and sell goods and services into new markets around the world. However, many other small businesses continue to trade locally and show little inclination to export. Why?

Within the European Union, it is estimated that approximately 25% of small (those employing between one and 49 people) and medium sized businesses (those employing between 50 and 250 people) export their goods and services.

The benefits of exporting to the businesses involved include greater sales, employment growth and the development of a more informed and outward looking mindset.

The barriers for small businesses include the costs in time and money of breaking into export markets, finding the right opportunities and a lack of information and training.

Governments recognise the benefits of getting as many companies as possible to export and understand the difficulties associated with breaking into new markets.

As a result, small businesses can avail of a range of supports to help them export, although, there are a number of challenges. They include:

  • the investment of management time and other resources
  • access to finance and initial costs of breaking into new markets
  • the development of competitive goods and services
  • the identification of suitable markets and business partners
  • staff development in relation to up-skilling for export opportunities
  • the ability to sell to new customers in new markets
  • knowledge and experience of new market rules and regulations
  • managing red tape and foreign exchange issues

Given the fact that government provides a range of support programmes to address the barriers the question remains: why don’t more small businesses export?

The answer may lie in the ambition and desire of business owners in relation to exporting and their fears about the difficulties of breaking into new markets.

There is no doubt that exports are beneficial to the economy and create jobs but there is an initial, and sometimes painful, learning curve; which for some businesses is just too much.

SO, some small businesses trade locally and some export all around the world, however, to increase the latter we need to find new solutions.

What do you think?

Why don’t more small businesses export?

Look forward to seeing your comments.