Future50: Is it time for your business to seek out export opportunities?

Tom Bool, managing director of Integro Languages. Picture: Integro Languages.

Tom Bool, managing director of Integro Languages. Picture: Integro Languages. - Credit: Archant

Last week was a pretty momentous occasion by all accounts, with the triggering of Article 50.

But now that the UK is heading out of the EU, how easy will it be for this country to pursue international trade deals?

Many Future50 firms such as EposNow, Lisa Angel, and Redbourn Group are already successfully trading overseas.

Matthew Peek, Barclays' head of SME in East Anglia, said for firms thinking of trading overseas there were three main areas to think about: making sure what you do is relevant to the potential market, reviewing and updating your business plan, and surrounding yourself with the support to make the most of the opportunities.

The bank's Anglia business banking team recently ran an event with the Department for International Trade (DIT) at Felixstowe Port which included presentations focusing on exporting to Africa.

'The landscape has changed and you need to make sure you are still relevant,' said Mr Peek.

'There's a whole labyrinth of support out there. It isn't all doom and gloom. There are challenges and opportunities and nimble businesses can realise them.

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'Within the Eurozone, the changes to the value of the currency means that businesses are trading with countries for the first time.'

But on the flip side, he advised importers not to hang on too long before passing on price increases.

'We have already started to see profit margins squeezed particularly in the manufacturing sector,' he added.

However, at a Norfolk Chamber Doing Business in Japan event in Norwich, one speaker Tom Bool, managing director of Integro Languages, which provides language services for businesses growing internationally, warned that firms needed to understand the business culture of the country they wanted to operate in - translation is not enough.

'For those that know what they are doing the international opportunities should be ever-present,' he said. 'If you've developed your business in the UK, you're certainly starting your international journey from a strong position. But consider trialling and small-scale efforts.'

He said the firm was particularly interested in Japan because of the potential of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.