Expanding Internationally

Updated: 6 July 2022

Import and export to grow your sales

The development of new technologies now means businesses, both big and small, can import and export abroad more effectively to grow their sales. To help you take advantage of the international marketplace, a variety of options are available if you're looking to expand your business.

Helping more businesses import and export

If you want to improve your cost base and become more competitive, importing goods from overseas can make commercial sense. If you're looking to grow sales then exporting to overseas markets can provide exciting new opportunities

What to consider before importing

Before you start to import, doing your research is a must. We have developed a useful guide to importing, which you can download below.

Here are some of the key points you should consider:

  • Establish a need for your products by understanding exactly who your customers are and what goods they require or, determine if you can source materials cheaper offshore
  • Get to know potential suppliers and where practical, visit them directly to see who can provide the best product and quality
  • Look at the countries you'll be importing from, it could make a significant difference to your costs
  • Consider the currency you'll be charged and the impact of currency fluctuations
  • Consider the production time and minimum quantities to order
  • Understand the restrictions and regulations that affect the goods when they arrive
  • Get to know the incoterms rules to reduce misunderstandings and minimise trade disputes
  • Find out about duties on what you are importing

What to consider before exporting

Operating beyond your domestic market can be a different experience. First and foremost, some preliminary work must be done to increase your chances of success. All of these things will have an impact on how you grow and operate your business. We have developed a useful guide to exporting, which includes what to consider and how you can minimise the risks.

You will need to:

  • Create an export plan to evaluate the potential benefits and risks
  • Choose markets that have growth potential and a customer need
  • Consider which currency you will charge for your products or service and the impact of currency fluctuations
  • Understand the regulations and requirements to operate overseas
  • Be realistic and prove that export can be profitable before you make any serious investment
  • Budget for business development as international markets can take a while to come to fruition
  • Make sure your business is financially stable, with the right skillset

How to minimise the risks

All businesses must balance risk with potential reward whenever making decisions. In particular, exchange rate fluctuations, which our recent Global Business Monitor highlighted as a key barrier to importing and exporting for SMEs. If not managed right, fluctuations can negatively impact your overall profitability, putting a strain on cashflow.

To minimise the risks:

  • Consider a structured approach by using a one-stop shop of experts
  • Decide whether to price your goods or services in the local currency and how this compares to mainstream currencies
  • Build currency fluctuations into your margins. Some currencies are more volatile than others because of their unstable economies or inflation
  • If you are trading in a foreign currency, protect yourself against foreign exchange risk by hedging against exchange rate movements
  • Consider Export Finance which can help you grow your business