Exports on the agenda: Top tips for breaking into overseas markets

Latest ministerial posts show the UK Government is on a mission to get more small businesses setting their sights beyond domestic markets and into overseas trade.

Highlighting assistance being made available by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), Trade Minister Lord Livingston has set out a bold objective to treble the numbers receiving support to help the UK overhaul its international rivals. 


As an initiative to encourage growth, it’s something Xero wholeheartedly supports. As well as wanting small businesses to reach their full potential, we know that, for some firms, widening the net by targeting foreign buyers could be key to your future sales.

This was highlighted by figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showing firms that export are 11% more likely to survive. 

Clearly, this isn’t a decision that should be taken likely. Yet, if you do decide the time is right, putting in as much groundwork as possible will doubtless help pave the way to export success. As a starting point, this means thorough research into the different regional operating conditions, customs and legal regulations. 

Ready to take the plunge? If so, don’t be afraid to grab as much advice and support as possible. Remember to pay attention to the finances at all times and keep a close eye on your operating costs and conditions from the outset. 

Here are a few more of our top tips for export success:

Tip #1: Think local. As well as thorough research into the overseas market you’re looking to enter, take time to regionalise your online presence. Showing prices in local currency, having a local contact email address, PO Box or phone number and ensuring you're reachable in the export market time-zone will avoid marking you out as a foreign provider.

If you’re planning to export to the US, create a separate site and ensure that, as well as all of the above, it is updated with American-English spelling and vocabulary.

Tip #2: Take financial advice and support. Export strategies often require upfront capital and credit capacity. In addition to traditional lending routes, consider the UKTI and UK Export Finance for financial support and guarantees, as well as local knowledge of most trading nations.

Tip #3: Take to the cloud. Use online accounting to create foreign currency invoices and bills by setting a default currency for the customer or supplier. This simplifies the process of accounting for currency gains and losses with rates updated hourly, so you always have access to the most up-to-date account information.

The process can be carried out using a foreign currency account or a nominated domestic account. Integrating apps such as TransferMate and SAT FXOnline into your cloud accounting platform can also cut the cost of foreign currency payments by removing transfer fees and offering competitive exchange rates.

Find out how Xero can help your business with its accounts. 


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