Can We Increase Exports? Part II

Germany’s small and medium sized manufacturing companies export goods and services to countries all around the world. They are largely family-owned and account for a majority of the country’s economic output and almost two-thirds of jobs.

The ability of such companies to export is impressive and seen as one of the reasons for the strength and depth of the German economy in recent years.

From a distance it looks simple but there are a number of questions to be asked: why are German’s small businesses so successful at exporting; and can we follow their lead?

The first question is relatively easy to answer, as there are many reasons for their success. They include the ability to:

  • focus on and grow niche export marketsavoid distraction and dilution of resources
  • create and keep long-term customers
  • balance stability and innovation to meet customer needs
  • work closely with customers on product improvements
  • design and develop their own machinery
  • develop specialist expertise in specialist areas
  • provide unique and superior customer support
  • hire, train and retain staff for the long-term
  • work in partnerships with vocational colleges to develop apprenticeships
  • consistently produce high quality products at competitive prices
  • create stable and long-term working environments for staff
  • manage in a low growth environment for long-term benefit

The second question is more difficult to answer, as the reasons for such success have developed over many decades and are built on a patient and conservative approach to business.

Success in this context is defined by the ability to build businesses for the long-term benefit of those involved and the relentless pursuit of perfection in what are often global niche markets.

The approach taken by German businesses is admirable and relatively easy to understand yet difficult to replicate, as it is grounded in a culture and tradition of caution, innovation and excellence.

The need for companies to export has never been greater but the German example highlights the scale of the challenge and the commitment and dedication needed to make it work.

At its simplest level businesses need to figure out how to find and keep customers to remain in business; finding and keeping customers in the export market is no different but each business has to find its own way.

SO, exports will continue to be the lifeblood of the economy and businesses will have to discover what works for them; it may not be easy but it is necessary.

What do you think?

Can we increase exports?

Look forward to hearing your comments.