UKTI West Midlands‘ Paul Noon highlights the importance of encouraging UK SMEs to export

IN: Business news

Aldermore spoke to Paul Noon, Regional Director for UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) in the West Midlands, to hear his thoughts on why more British SMEs should set their sights overseas, and the support available to help them do so.

undefined “Companies that export are better companies,” Noon boldly states, elaborating, “They employ more people, they’re more likely to do R&D, they’re less likely to go bust, they’ll make more profit, they’ll hold on to their staff better and they’ll be able to attract better staff. And there’s quite a lot of evidence that that’s the case.”

Noon concedes that there can be numerous hurdles along the road to exporting, from tax and regulation, to surmounting language and cultural barriers and the logistical issues of long-distance sales. He explains though that the challenge of entering a new market often pushes companies to evolve their business in ways that they may not have considered, which can be incredibly beneficial for both the company and the UK economy. “It sort of enriches a company with different experience,” Noon summarises, adding, “And I think for companies that export, it’s quite good fun as well.” Noon is also keen to point out that small businesses need not face the daunting challenge of overseas trade alone. “There’s a lot of support for companies to get across those barriers; hundreds of thousands of companies do it every year for the first time,” affirms Noon, recommending, “For companies that have never exported before, my strong advice would be go get in touch with UKTI.”

UKTI’s services cover a comprehensive range of support measures, from simple options like website translation services, right through to accompanying UKTI on trade missions to international markets in order to build up local business connections. As Noon outlines, these services are tailored specifically to each business. “You’ll be given an international trade advisor who will sit down and work with that company to work out what the particular barriers for that company might be,” Noon continues, stating, “They’ll work through that, help you come up with a plan.” As Noon will attest, the benefits of these services speak for themselves, with a growing number of companies from all sectors across the region he is focussed on starting to explore their export potential: “As a region, the West Midlands its growing its exports faster than any other part of the UK. So since 2010 when the export challenge was set, exports from the West Midlands have grown by over fifty per cent, when export growth as a whole from the UK is less than 10 per cent, so there’s something really exciting happening in this region.”

Nevertheless, Noon believes more can still be done to encourage further SMEs to embrace export opportunities, concluding: “The basic point is there are lots of companies out there doing it and being very successful. The more that come along, the more we can help, and the more that get exporting, the better.”

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