Entrepreneurs facing obstacles in their global ambitions, report finds
Small start-ups are struggling to take advantage of new online markets, according to an Enterprise Nation and GS1 UK study, Delivering the Goods: The Global Ambition of the UK’s Entrepreneurs.
Events, notably Brexit and the Covid-19 crisis, have pushed current export business models to a breaking point, with the industry lacking the logistical foresight or the workforce to ease this tension. .
This has had an extremely negative impact on small businesses. The results of a survey of 1,000 UK SMEs highlight how a third party experienced damaged or lost shipments while exporting goods and 40% cite complex paperwork as a problem for their business.
In addition, the cost of doing business abroad has increased exponentially to unsustainable levels for these start-ups, with 41% of them facing expensive and slow shipments and a third having fees or charges. unforeseen events added to customer costs. This has resulted in a drop in profits and consumer appetite for these products.
These logistical barriers have worsened at a time when UK businesses no longer see international trade as one of their main concerns. Instead, many are confidently trying to seize global export opportunities following the rise of online marketplaces and social channels aimed directly at consumers; three-quarters (75%) now say exporting is a viable opportunity early in their growth journey and more than half of companies are already exporting products.
The overwhelming majority of the report found that the export ambitions of UK entrepreneurs are currently being held back by these logistical barriers. GS1 UK and Enterprise Nation are calling for increased industry support from all key stakeholders and government to tackle this issue. This includes improving awareness of the initiatives available to this cohort.
Emma Jones, founder of the small business network and business support provider, Enterprise Nation, said: “What is clear is that the government’s ‘exporting is good’ mantra has finally caught on. path and is wholeheartedly embraced by UK entrepreneurs – interestingly, even those very early on, see exporting as an important path to success.
“But while they have successfully marketed their products and services to overseas customers and managed currencies and payments, they need more support to develop good logistics skills and capabilities that will ultimately reduce time and costs. shipping. The missing piece in their arsenal is literally the delivery of the goods.
Sarah Atkins, Marketing Director and Membership Director at GS1 UK, said: “Clearly size doesn’t matter when it comes to exporting and this is no longer the land of the big guys. . It is very good news that start-ups and micro-businesses are now seeing international trade as a key success factor and that their prowess in customer-centric marketing is opening global doors.
“What we need to see now is a shift in focus from export support to small businesses, from marketing and awareness to more technical things like research and working with delivery partners. effective, ensuring that labeling is waterproof to avoid unnecessary delays and clearer guidelines specifically aimed at small government businesses. We also need to see government operating in a new ‘mode of transparency and assistance’ so that we can make the progress that we need to see. ”
Overall, the SMEs interviewed emphasized how it is the lack of transparency and clarity that mainly needs to be addressed in order to improve their navigation in the export process. 58% think clearer guidelines are needed for small businesses, with just under half also citing expert advice and better access to foreign market information as other useful tools to increase business sales.
In response, the report identifies practical recommendations for the government to offer targeted support to increase the skills and potential of UK export entrepreneurs.
· Produce detailed guidelines specific to the exporting country, specifically written and intended for smaller companies. The survey, which was conducted among companies with between one and 250 employees, found that most companies felt that the current guidelines were either irrelevant or did not take into account smaller-scale operators.
Develop a one-stop-shop that could help small businesses simplify complex regulatory issues including tariffs, labeling requirements and export documents in one place and encourage best practices that will be different for large and small businesses
· Develop a central hub where SMEs can connect and group together to “buy in bulk” and reduce shipping costs. Often the services are more suited to large scale exporters selling hundreds or thousands of packages per day, but SMEs often do not sell at this level. The business opportunity to serve exporting SMEs selling smaller amounts of shipments represents a multi-million pound opportunity, but this sector is currently not well served.
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