Last month, Informed Funding organised The Export Challenge: Profits and Cash Generation finance seminar at Workspace Kennington Park to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing new and growing companies exporting products. Informed Funding hold regular events for Workspace customers and non-Workspace professionals; please click here for more details.
Workspace customers had the opportunity to attend a series of workshops throughout the afternoon, and hear from Dr Rebecca Harding over networking drinks Dr. Harding co-founder and CEO of Equant-Analytics is a serial technology entrepreneur. She has also held senior roles in business, academic institutions internationally.
Some of her roles include Senior Fellow at London Business School, CEO of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor worldwide, Head of Corporate Research at Deloitte and Chief Economist at the Work Foundation.
It’s a key moment for businesses that export. Notwithstanding macro political shifts, the UK government has launched a new Department of International Trade which called 2017 the “Year for Exporting”. They are hoping to increase the number of SMEs who make a proportion of their sales overseas (8% currently) and those who are part of an export supply chain (15%).
Dr Rebecca Harding answered some questions about small businesses exporting.
How are businesses reacting to Brexit at the moment? How can the government mitigate this?
Businesses are taking a wait and see perspective. There is some reluctance to invest substantially (business borrowing has been relatively flat in the last six months) and companies that are more internationally focused are already seeing increases in their import costs.
The only way the government can help is by providing clarity during every step of the Brexit process in order to make sure that companies are clear on what the business implications are.
What countries or regions should New and Growing Companies be looking to trade with? Can the UK New and Growing Companies ever replace trade with Europe?
UK trade with Europe is too large for it to be replaced, even in the medium term by trade elsewhere. We are seeing strong growth in the Asia Pacific region, for example, but as this is still only 10% of our export market, it is unlikely that even this level of increase will substitute for trade with the EU.
What are the big trends that you see in global trade?
Global trade growth has slowed dramatically since 2012. This is driven by greater localisation, shorter supply chains, more stringent trade finance requirements and to some extent the digitisation of business (3D printers etc).
We shouldn't expect trade to pick up to the levels that we saw immediately after the financial crisis but there will always be goods and, increasingly, services that flow around the world.
How important is London as part of global trade, and why is that relevant to NGCs?
London is a financial and insurance services hub. It is critical for trade finance ($240bn of trade finance is intermediated through London) and this is relevant to NGCs because many rely on that strength and focus on trade indirectly, if not directly.
Her comments echo much of what we’ve been hearing from Workspace customers. Kris Ingham, the founder of Rejuvenation Water, who has spoken about the surprising benefits of Brexit for his business, also emphasised that the main difficulty with Brexit was not being able to make any business plans: “It needs to be sorted out. The lack of clarity is difficult”.
Let us know how your business is approaching exports at @WorkspaceGroup on Twitter.
Want to know more? Attend Informed Funding’s upcoming conference on Thursday 30th March near London Bridge . Please click here for more information on attending the event. Workspace customers have free and premium access to all Informed Funding’s events.