05/10/2016 13:17 BST | Updated 06/10/2017 06:12 BST

Smallest Firms Need Help To Improve Post-Brexit Export Record And Capitalise On Fall In Sterling

Small firms that export are confident, introduce new products, are more likely to seek investment and have significantly higher growth expectations than companies that don't.

Geoffrey Holman via Getty Images

Small firms that export are confident, introduce new products, are more likely to seek investment and have significantly higher growth expectations than companies that don't.


While 68 per cent of the smallest firms say they expected to grow in the next six months, that figure rises to 74 per cent amongst long-term exporters and a dramatic 91 per cent among those that had started to export in the last six months.


But along with clear ambition and resilience, the Small Business Barometer we conducted amongst our 70,000-strong membership found exporters were also much more exposed to the impact of Brexit than those that did not.


While only 15 per cent of all firms polled said they had felt a negative financial impact post-Brexit, that number doubles to around 30 per cent among those that export.  And the longer they have been exporting, the higher the impact.

And while bigger firms are busy capitalising on the fall in sterling and the increased sales that brings, smaller companies need help right now, more than ever to ensure they can compete on an international level.


Small businesses are far from being fat and lazy. They don't get the opportunities or the trade deals that big businesses benefit from and they still find a way to export, but the frustrating thing is that they would dearly like to do it much more.


We think the export potential amongst the smallest firms is huge, but they need some significant help and subsidy to get them to where they need to be.


We've just announced a subsidised trade mission to China and Hong Kong, Britain's second biggest export market outside Europe. It will focus on these smaller companies that need the extra help.  The trip is being supported by private sector sponsors including global delivery firm UPS, HSBC, KPMG, Invest HK, Alibaba, Gatwick Airport and international airline Cathay Pacific.

These sponsors are vital to making sure we can keep costs low and therefore accessible to the smallest British-based companies.


Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, says Gatwick keeps export costs low for small businesses to export around the world.  Its three new Chinese routes are also connecting small businesses to the UK's second biggest export market outside Europe. 


Kiel Harkness, UPS Marketing Director United Kingdom, Ireland and Nordic Countries says his firm is committed to helping small and medium businesses export and grow their business. He added: "In a post-Brexit landscape, where exporting within the EU may change, we're keen to collaborate closely to help small businesses navigate exporting around the world."


Paul Cruttenden, Marketing & Digital Sales Manager at Cathay Pacific says his firm has long had a role in bringing together business people from the UK, Asia, China and further afield, encouraging the exchange of goods, services, capital, talent, skills and ideas to enable great business.

And the fall in the sterling is an opportunity says Kevin Smith, Regional Chairman for KPMG in London and specialist in international trade. He reckons agile smaller firms must make themselves more competitive and accelerate orders from abroad right now. He told me it's important that small businesses are given the opportunity to attend invaluable trade missions and that they are assisted via incentives such as the accelerated roll out of export vouchers to encourage more early stage businesses to think seriously about what they have to sell. 

That's what our trade missions are all about. They've never been more needed or important.

The five-day November mission will help British-based firms both source manufacturers and sell to consumers. It is particularly relevant to those retailing consumer-facing products including food and drink, luxury fashion, children's toys and homewares, with the trip coinciding with Singles' Day - the world's largest selling day that is particularly relevant to the Chinese market.


The trip is the fifth we've arranged this year for the smallest companies as part of our on-going Go Global campaign, which has helped more than 250 small companies explore overseas trade opportunities since it launched two years ago. Other missions have taken firms to Berlin, Dublin, Amsterdam, and New York.


For more detail look here