Blog: Expand your customer base beyond the UK: 5 reasons why!
Expand your customer base beyond the UK: 5 reasons why!
As a small business, whether you provide services or sell products, finding customers outside of the UK may not be your top priority right now. If you run a domestic cleaning business or a baby sensory centre you might not even think this is relevant, but there are many reasons to sell products and services internationally. If you have a growth mindset and can dedicate time and resources to learn how to attract and serve customers based in countries across the world, read on! There’s a vast amount of private and public sector help available to guide you on the next steps.
Here are 5 reasons you should consider selling internationally:
- Gain more customers
If you have a product or service that sells well in the UK or a business model that you can franchise in the UK, then there will be like-minded customers beyond the UK. They may find you via your website and social media presence, or you may have to find them, but they do exist. We can advise on how to carry out international market research to find which countries present the greatest opportunity for your products or services and help you decide on the best business model to serve those customers.
- Make your business more resilient
Research shows that businesses which sell to customers in other markets are more innovative. As these businesses come into contact with different types of competition they are continually enhancing their own products or services and reduce their reliance on the UK market. If your business experiences seasonal downturns due to products related to winter/summer, back to school, festivities etc. then selling to countries with different climates, school start dates, festivals, helps counter these. Being able to buy components in higher quantities could also lower your cost of sales and, from a personal development point of view, you will learn new skills and enjoy new experiences. We can advise on the skills you will need and who provides training to develop them.
- “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow!”
Many overseas deals featured in the news showcase large, successful companies. Export-related images of ships stacked with containers imply that businesses need to produce large quantities before they can sell overseas. All businesses have to start somewhere. 99% of businesses in the UK are small to medium in size and considered the backbone of the economy - driving growth, opening new markets, and creating jobs. It’s no different in Cheshire and Warrington and your contribution is vital. We have plenty of examples of local businesses selling small amounts to international customers online or otherwise, sending by Royal Mail or fast parcel operators. Small service companies differentiate themselves to pitch to international customers, but clearly don’t require the postage. We can help evaluate whether you are ready to start selling overseas and if not, what you need to do to become “export-ready”.
- You are not on your own
Many businesses who receive enquiries from outside the UK, or have a dream of growing internationally, put these enquiries and dreams on hold as they don’t know where to start. Help is out there! The team at Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub can help you with your business development needs and can introduce you to the many business support organisations focused on international growth. These include our local Department for International Trade team and Chambers of Commerce who can help move you further towards achieving your exporting dream.
- Your hard work will be rewarded
Once you start, and continue, on your international sales journey your business will start to enjoy the many benefits listed above with some additional exciting ways to gain recognition for your efforts. We can already visualise you entering the “New Exporter” category for an award either locally, nationally, or within your own industry networks. Entering for awards is a great way to boost the reputation and profile of your company as well as make you and your staff feel proud to be part of the business. Here at Cheshire and Warrington Growth Hub, we would also like to give you a shout out. We are always searching for “good news” stories not only to raise your profile within the wider business community but also to inspire businesses who are at the stage you once were that it is possible!
So where do you go from here? We’d like to start by recommending DIT’s Export Academy, an interactive series of online educational sessions designed specifically for micro and small businesses considering selling to customers beyond the home market. The sessions cover topics including international market research, the process involved in selling overseas, pricing strategy, and getting paid. It also helps you create an action plan to keep you focused on the next steps. It’s free of charge so why not build it into your professional development now.
If you are feeling inspired and motivated to expand your customer base beyond the UK then get in touch!
This blog was written by Tricia Francis, Export Manager, Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership