Belfast Telegraph

Firms urged to beat 'nervousness' in export sales push

Small businesses in Scotland remain "nervous" about exporting abroad, according to a study.

About a quarter of Scottish small and medium enterprises (SMEs) currently sell products and services outside the UK, a YouGov survey of business leaders found.

Companies in the m anufacturing sector showed the strongest export capability, with 63% of those surveyed saying they export outside the UK; followed by SMEs in the media, marketing and advertising sector (57%) and the education sector (46%).

The survey also found the bigger a company's annual turnover, the more likely they are to export.

Roughly 60% of SMEs with an annual turnover of £10 million or more are exporting, compared to 41% of companies with an annual turnover of between £1 million and less than £10 million, and 24% of companies with an annual turnover of less than £1 million.

Scottish SMEs in their first year of trading are least inclined to export, with just 13% exporting outside the UK.

Emma Jones, founder of business support group Enterprise Nation, said: "Scotland is a great place to run a business with strong heritage and a skilled workforce.

"However, it's clear from these findings that there is still some nervousness from SMEs in the country about selling globally despite the huge opportunity it brings.

"With the uncertainty of Brexit and the resulting uncertain UK economic landscape, it's really important to spread your risk and broaden your customer base."

The survey, commissioned by Amazon with 255 Scottish respondents, found the focus for SMEs that do export is on the EU (83%), then the US (50%).

The findings were published to coincide with the first Amazon Academy event in Scotland on Tuesday, set up to give practical support and guidance to Scottish SMEs wanting to grow their businesses online.

Doug Gurr, UK manager at Amazon, said: "The internet and technology have the power to democratise the ability to start and run your own business, and gives SMEs global reach that's low cost and flexible.

"As long as you have a laptop, internet connection and a great product, you can essentially be local and sell global.

"That's why we're in Edinburgh today - to show SMEs small and large, urban and rural - how selling online can help open their business to a global customer base and drive growth."

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.