High time to start trading overseas

It's great to see Telegraph.co.uk supporting UK trade this month. They've knocked up a good microsite that encourages small and medium-sized businesses to get their fingers in the international pie. It's got case studies, news and in-depth looks at other countries that may offer the all right opportunities for your business. (Of course, we still think Smarta's import and export advice section is more comprehensive, but we've had a bit longer to put it together.)

The thing is, a lot of British companies shy away from foreign markets. Europe tends to get a bad rep for all its red tape, and anything further afield just seems a bit too, well, far afield. But there are some fantastic chances at business growth out there for you, and with digital communication the way it is and flights as cheap as they are now, keeping track of your distribution lines and suppliers in other countries really has never been easier.

Today on Telegraph.co.uk, the trade minister Lord Davies makes convincing arguments for why expanding overseas can help small businesses so much. "The fall in the pound has provided a window of opportunity for the British exporter, giving them an edge on price," he says. "It will enable them to develop initial supply chains and give them the foot in the door they need to prove the quality and sophistication of our goods and services."

Lord Davies cites government research that shows exporters are 11.4% more likely to survive in the medium-term. "Exporting enables companies to diversify their market base and it drives innovation." We completely agree. We also understand where he's coming from when he says: "UK companies overestimate the barriers and underestimate the benefits of exporting. We, as a country are uniquely placed by language, time zone, and even our legal system to take advantage of the upturn."

And we are. Organisations such as the UKTI and others (such as the ones in our smartbite on how to find help with import and export) offer support and opportunities of an extremely high calibre. Setting up shop in Japan may sound daunting, but with all of these institutions on-side to help, it's not actually that hard.

Trading overseas is like anything in business. You have to take a bit of a plunge into the unknown, a bit of a risk, if you want to make real headway. You need to try new things and explore new markets to get the best bang for your buck. Exploiting the rubbish state of our currency right now to undercut other countries' domestic competition, or manufacturing and buying up stock abroad to inflate your margins, are very refreshing ways to find an incredibly lucrative silver lining to this recession. Why not give them a try?

Read more in our section on import and export for small businesses

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