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With London 2012 and the Royal Baby, Brand Britain has never been so popular! Capitalise on this trend and take advantage of the massive opportunities in international markets.

Going Global brings together a panel of pioneering entrepreneurs who are flying the flag for Brand Britain and have successfully penetrated global markets. Come along and make the most of this unique chance to quiz our panel about how to capitalise on international demand for all things British.
To preview the event, we spoke to the British Library’s entrepreneur in residence, Stephen Fear, and asked him about how SMEs can take advantage of international trade. Read below:

The Government has recently announced an aim to double UK exports to one trillion pound this decade, and SMEs will play a big part in helping to reach that target. Barclays’ research highlights that small and medium-sized businesses are up for the challenge, and even newly created businesses recognise the benefit, and are looking to further increase their footprint overseas. We asked Stephen Fear, a businessman and philanthropist with over 40 years of international business experience, about how SMEs can take advantage of international trade.

Only one in five small businesses export and yet those where exporting is relevant are more likely to succeed long term. Why do you think that more SMEs aren’t exporting?

Stephen Fear: Start-ups and SMEs need to concentrate on securing their home market first. They need sound cashflow before they can properly explore export markets. SMEs usually have small management teams and exploring export markets is very time consuming. This puts many off trying.

What do you think are the perceived barriers to export and what do you feel the reality is?

SF: To successfully crack an export market you need focus. This is very difficult to achieve if management time is needed elsewhere. Language is another perceived barrier. Although many business people in places like Europe, China, and the Middle East speak good English the perception is that it’s difficult. My suggestion to SMEs wishing to export is firstly decide on one foreign market and concentrate all your export efforts on that. There are many translation apps now which make the job of business correspondence quite easy. Conversation is another matter.

Taking your business to new markets overseas can be quite daunting, how do you think SMEs can build confidence when approaching an export strategy?

SF: In a simple word, ‘research’. Knowledge builds confidence in everything, so do your research before and not after you start exporting. Visit the Business & Intellectual Property Centre  at The British Library and ask for help with this. All the staff are very knowledgeable, friendly and will be able to point you in the right direction. The BIPC is there to help SMEs & should not be overlooked. It’s both a national resource and a national treasure. There is over £5m-worth of mostly free research material available for growing businesses.

How do you think SMEs can begin to understand overseas opportunities and evaluate success?

SF: Spend time checking out online forums. Find out what others are doing and how they’re doing it. Read up on your target country. Write to the commercial departments of the Embassy of the country concerned and ask if they have any material they can send you. Are there any courses available? Check the web for info – the UKTI have a huge amount of free resources. Check the competition for your product or service. Is there a market and if there is who is the biggest player in your target country? Understand your market. Do your research.

Fluctuating currencies and language barriers are often cited as some of the bigger concerns around international trade, how can SMEs looking to export prepare themselves for these challenges?

SF: As I said previously, there are many apps available which will help reduce the language barrier, particularly for the written word. If you’re serious about exporting then learning the language will help you succeed. First port of call is talking to your bank about protecting against currency fluctuation. It’s an important aspect and needs to be fully understood.

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It was nothing but a night to remember and again I’m grateful for it all. We arrived late but it was worth every minutes. I have attended a lot of seminars and in all honesty many of them are boring but this one was very informational and answered real factors that affects an entrepreneur’s life. From the risks and sacrifices we take/make in order to fulfill our dreams and many ways it can affect our families. The entire evening was bliss!!

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While the event took place every attendee had a chance to enter a prize draw that I didn’t!! Haha!

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This beautiful and very intimate conference that gave me life was then followed by a gathering. This is often when we get the chance to network and find new partners and other business related opportunities. Everybody came out to relax and unwind.

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The evening was a true blessing and I’ve learnt a lot but as much as I was feeling all type of blessed god sent me more blessing to rejoice.

As we were enjoying the evening I had the amazing opportunity to meet Sia Sutherland!! Do not get me wrong being surrounded by people like Lord Billomoria, Mathew Rock and Will Butler-Adam is something to be extremely proud of but Sian gave out an energy that connected to me and I guess I will always have that special bond with a female entrepreneur who has children and has created a business out of that family aspect just like I did. She is an inspiration to women and mothers!!

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Thank you ma’am you are a true inspiration!! I will order you products Mama Mio and Mio Skincare and try it!! I’m sure it’s lovely. Thank you for the discount and no more stretch marks and cellulite for me!

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Thank you all for having us!! It was a true blessing! We are forever grateful!!

Talk to you soon dear reader!!

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