Smaller firms with ambitions to expand into foreign markets should be given more help to export, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
The lobbying group released research suggesting that more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of small companies wanting to export struggle to access support from the government.
Among FSB members, the study found that those receiving assistance to sell their products overseas find it effective, but a third (33 per cent) of respondents said it is difficult to get this help.
Nearly half (45 per cent) of firms that are part of the federation were unsure about how to access government aid to export.
According to the FSB, this represents a significant opportunity for growth. The group urged the government to recognise that small businesses have different needs to larger companies and to introduce a "tailored and streamlined" approach to providing information.
Other findings from the research showed that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of small firms export goods and services. The results indicated that the largest markets are manufactured goods and services.
FSB members that were already exporting felt generally positive about future prospects, with over a third (36 per cent) anticipating growth in the value of goods sold overseas in the next three months.
John Allan, national chairman of the lobbying organisation, said: "Our research shows that, despite best efforts, our members continue to be frustrated in their attempts to expand overseas.
"It is vital that the UK's small firms receive the right support, not just their medium-sized or larger counterparts, and that it is maintained for the long term."
Previous research from the FSB underlined the important part that smaller companies play in UK employment, with these businesses expected to provide a "dramatic boost" to the jobs market over the summer.
Survey findings indicated that the proportion of small firms planning to take on more staff over the summer months is five times higher than in the second quarter of 2014.