Export success for businesses in the South West doesn’t require a grand vision or a risk-taking mindset, it comes from a relentless focus on quality, customer service and flexibility, according to new research from HSBC UK.
A survey of more than 200 businesses in the region found the top three characteristics for thriving exporters are attention to detail (54%), flexibility (51%) and the ability to be strategic (49%). Being a visionary (29%) or a risk-taker (23%) ranked outside the top ten (11th and 14th respectively).
Two fifths of businesses in the region said they began exporting following unexpected orders from overseas (40%).
The ‘Made in the South West’ label was also seen as a key catalyst for international growth, with 30% of exporters saying they started selling overseas because they felt their goods or services were of a higher quality than those available in their target market.
Simon Smith, Regional Director for Global Trade and Receivables Finance in the South West for HSBC UK, said: “The intrepid exporters of the South West have the flexibility to adapt their operations to accommodate unexpected orders and have confidence in the quality of their goods and services.
“The research tells us that having a revolutionary idea isn’t key to success – what’s really needed is a high quality product and the determination to seize upon opportunities. “To continue to find success they will need to demonstrate flexibility and being open to expanding into new markets to grow their customer base.”
The Department for International Trade estimates that 19% of UK registered businesses have goods or services which could be sold overseas but currently aren’t1 – presenting a huge opportunity for South West business looking to find growth.
If they were starting their exports journey again, more than a fifth (22%) said they would establish the right sales channels in overseas markets and 19% said they would spend more time understanding the business culture of the target market.
While South West firms were pessimistic about growth of the UK economy over the next 12 months, they were more bullish about the outlook for the economy in the next three years and almost half expect UK growth in the next ten years.
Simon added: “Challenging times lie ahead for UK businesses but there remains opportunity for firms to drive growth through exports to either existing or new markets.
“Now is the time for exporters to make sure they have robust plans in place ahead of Brexit, if they haven’t already taken steps to prepare there is still time to do so. While the immediate future remains uncertain there will be opportunities for UK businesses and preparing now to seize those will put businesses in the best position to find growth in the future.”