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Small firms that don't export are missing out

Most UK small businesses do not export their goods or services despite the fact that it could significantly boost their revenue, according to new research by the Royal Mail.

Released to coincide with Small Business Advice Week (5-11 September), the Royal Mail research found that 60% of the 300 small business owners polled were not yet selling overseas.


The key reasons for this included the cost and complexity of getting through customs (26%), lack of knowledge of the market (21%) and language barriers (21%).


However, many of the business owners polled are interested in expanding overseas, with 35% of small firms saying that Europe holds the most potential to generate new sales for their business while 28% say the USA has the greatest potential.


For 26% of small businesses, the cost of getting through customs is the main obstacle to exporting. However according to the Royal Mail, many international orders from outside the EU fall below the minimum threshold for which customs duties are chargeable, making those markets more accessible to small businesses.


Meanwhile, among the 40% of businesses who sell internationally, just over a quarter of their sales this Christmas (26%) are expected to come from international orders.


At present, 15% of small exporters are selling to customers outside the European Union; 10% of those selling within the EU would also like to expand further afield. However, only 25% of small businesses use international online marketplaces to grow their sales.


Jim Shaikh CEO of Yoomi, the first self-warming baby bottle said: 

"Expanding internationally was a no-brainer for us. The UK market for our product is very mature and we found that expanding abroad was the logical next step for us and the only way for us to achieve growth and survive."

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