Just recently Lesley was once again invited by The Guardian Small Business Network to join their expert panel for a live on-line question and answer session about exporting to BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) hosted by Emily Wight.
Lesley was joined on the panel by Jeff Hardman, a growth coach for GrowthAccelerator, Nick Sinfield, CEO at women’s footwear brand DUO, Madeleine White head of strategic partnerships for Whizz Education, an on-line tutoring service, Ignaty Dyakov, director at Russia Local Ltd, Chris Taylor, a director at Eve Taylor, which manufactures professional aromatherapy, skin and body care products, Mark Walker, UK London International Trade adviser at UK Trade and Investment, Jessica Zhang, manager at China-Britain Business Council and Michelle Raven, marketing manager at Stirling Dynamics.
Questions and issues included some specific to individual BRIC countries. For example, in Russia there is high demand for the UK’s heritage brands with luxury products including fashion, cars, accessories and homeware seen as highly desirable and associated with traditional British values and quality.
With Brazil hosting the Olympics in 2016 the panel addressed the question of whether this presents an opportunity for British SMEs to enter the Brazilian market. Several experts commented that opportunities for SMEs to launch products would be limited as the Olympics are more likely to be a showcase for Brazilian culture and goods – just as London 2012 was for the UK.
China remains a significant potential export market; as with Russia, there is a burgeoning middle class with strong spending power who are keen to buy quality goods – particularly with links to UK heritage and the Royal Family.
SMEs are concerned that if they export to China their products may be copied. Panellists advised that UK businesses need to have appropriate IP security in place to protect their brands. Other questions relating to China included working with third parties in China and advice on setting up local offices.
The panel discussed general issues concerning SMEs looking to grow their businesses in global markets. For example, how a failure to understand and take into account cultural differences can be a barrier – even a deal breaker – in international trading. Top tips for exporting to BRIC countries included: understand and research your market; know your customers; create the right products for your target market; use the support services available in the UK for advice and best practice; look for good local partners and build relationships and use awards such as the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise to showcase your businesses overseas.
Lesley Batchelor commented: “As increasing numbers of UK SMEs are looking to grow through exporting, on-line platforms like the Guardian’s live Q&As are invaluable resources for sharing experiences and picking up expert tips.
“The issues we discussed reinforce how critical it is for UK businesses to recognise the significance of professionalism in international trade if they are to compete on a global stage.
There is no substitute for thorough planning, research and knowledge about new markets. Once again, this on-line debate highlighted how the Institute’s own expertise in providing education, training programmes and qualifications is critical for those businesses that are serious about trading internationally.”
Contact us below with your questions – or call the team at Export House on +44 (0)1733 404 400.