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Guide to exporting

What you need to know about exporting

From reaching more customers to increasing your turnover, here are 10 reasons why exporting could benefit your business.

10 reasons to start exporting

It could be that you’ve been approached by international customers interested in your product or service. Or you’re looking for a new revenue stream to improve your business.

Whatever the reason for considering exporting, the good news is that there’s never been a better time to start.

1. Business growth

It’s the biggest appeal of exporting – and a big benefit. 37% of businesses that now export said they’d reached their limit in the UK within 3 years. Also, 27% of exporters achieve year-on-year growth of 40%1.

2. British products and services are in demand

Simply by being British, your products and services are in demand in traditional, established export markets like Europe and the US, as well as in high-growth economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

3. The government is behind you

Barclays and UK Trade & Investment are working together to inspire and support UK businesses to sell overseas, and to connect companies across the world to the UK marketplace. We are proud to support the 'Exporting is GREAT' campaign, which presents real-time export opportunities in all sectors across the world.

4. Access more customers

The EU alone can provide you with access to 500 million customers. Consider opportunities in India and China and that number rises into the billions.

5. It’s easier than you think

Of the businesses surveyed in a recent Barclays report 86%2 stated that exporting went as well as they were hoping, with some finding it easier than they thought it would be.

6. Improve your business profile

Talk about how your product or service is sold abroad and you’ll find that your credibility and reputation significantly improves.

7. Increase turnover

More customers will want more of your products – business surveyed said that exporting was responsible for increasing their productivity by 34% in the first year alone3.

8. Give your products a new lease of life

You may be reaching saturation point with your products or services here in the UK, but if you take them abroad you could extend their lifespan with new audiences.

9. Spread your risk

Given the competitive UK market, moving your business away from complete domestic dependence could be a good move. With additional revenue streams potentially coming in from international markets, you could spread your risk across a wider range of customers.

10. It’s not just for big business

The internet has thrown open exporting to small businesses, thousands of which already successfully trade with both traditional markets like Europe and the US and lucrative, high growth economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil.

Common exporting issues

Having helped thousands of UK businesses to start exporting, we’ve drawn together common exporting issues you might face with ideas on how to handle them.

  • Finding customers and business partners

    As this can make or break your exporting venture, it’s quite rightly a key concern for many businesses. The good news is there’s plenty of help available, like the UKTI’s Overseas Market Introduction Services, which provide support during overseas visits, identify potential business partners and key contacts. Our International Managers can also be a valuable source of contacts and information.

  • Legal, regulatory and customs issues

    Every country has its own trading, taxation, legal, regulatory and intellectual property systems, so it’s important that you understand those of your target countries.

    Through organisations like the UKTI and Chambers of Commerce, you can access overseas advisers with knowledge of local trading and taxation systems. The Intellectual Property Office also provides support and guidance on patents, trademarks, designs and copyright.

  • Payment issues

    You can help reduce the risk of late or non-paying customers when trading internationally with the right insurance and accurate research. Making sure that all of your contracts have clear payment terms and dates is also important. Barclays Business Abroad has tools and services to help you do this and more.

  • Language and cultural barriers

    The potential language differences are obvious, but don’t underestimate how different cultures can be as well. From how business is conducted to how products are marketed – it’s important that you’re sensitive to the local way of doing things.

    Learning a few rudimentary phrases of your target country’s language is a sign of respect and very much appreciated. For a fee, the UKTI can provide interpreters and also offer an Export Communications Review that can help ensure your website and other marketing activities are working as hard as they can in an international environment.

  • Underestimating exchange rate risks

    With the speed of exchange rate fluctuations it can be difficult to manage foreign exchange risks. While the changes could work in your favour, even the slightest movement in the other direction could mean a significant financial loss for your business. Your International Trade Managers can help you with managing exchange rate risks, including whether you should open a currency account.

  • Logisitics

    If the idea of international transport, duties and customs concerns you, you’re not alone. That’s why most businesses rely on the expertise of freight forwarders to handle the transport of their products. They often also handle all of the documentation and procedures as well – but double check that this is the case first.

Find an International Manager

Our team of International Managers covers the UK, providing businesses with expert support and guidance on trading overseas.

Other services that may interest you

An easy way to collect payment for your exported goods

Stay in control of your goods once they’ve been dispatched – so you know you’ll get paid.

Get paid for exported goods while covering your trade risks


Get a guarantee of payment before you commit to sending goods.

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