Go Global: Three reasons why every small business should trade overseas

Old key chain in the shape of a small Earth globe

Why make the effort to engage in international trade? Whether buying or selling, there are potential benefits in terms of cost, customer numbers and exposure to fresh ideas that can help your business grow. Linda Kozlowksi, head of customer acquisition for Go Global gold sponsor Alibaba.com, puts the case for taking your business to the world. Big cost savings, millions of buyers and huge choice are just three reasons why every company, no matter how small, should be doing business worldwide. Research undertaken by Alibaba.com last year* showed that 80 per cent of small businesses in the UK are failing to embrace the global marketplace, with more than one quarter (26%) considering themselves too small to trade with partners from outside the UK. While the prospect of buying or selling products with a company on the other side of the world might seem daunting, it is important to remember that global trade is not just for big businesses. Small enterprises, too, should venture outside of the UK and even beyond Europe. If small businesses really want to grow and remain healthy and successful, then they need to take advantage of the opportunities available through trading on a worldwide stage.

1. Cost savings from international trade

All businesses thrive on profit and are constantly searching for cost savings. Finding cheaper suppliers without compromising on quality is one of the easiest ways of raising profit margins - and by widening your search for suppliers, you will increase your chances of finding one that is priced more competitively. Whether you are trying to source a specific product or want to find a manufacturer to make a bespoke item for you, there are thousands of manufacturers and suppliers across the globe and it makes sense to look as far afield as possible to find the best deals for your business.

2. Millions of buyers in the global marketplace

There are thousands of internet searches every day from people seeking all kinds of products, so to maximise profits all businesses should be in a position to capture some of those potential customers. Be prepared to respond to queries and orders worldwide, and investigate all routes to proactively promote your business to overseas buyers. There is a real appetite around the world for British goods at the moment so there’s never been a better time to expand your customer base by showcasing your products to worldwide buyers who are searching for the things you sell.

3. Diversification through worldwide connections

The more people you talk to about your business and your industry, the more ideas you are exposed to. Getting different points of view from around the globe could trigger off all sorts of opportunities and possibilities.You may find new products to expand your portfolio or discover new partners to grow your business in other ways. Trading globally is the best way to keep your business and your ideas fresh and up to date.

Get help from Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com logo There is plenty to consider when venturing into doing business with the rest of the world. To help out with the basics, The Knowledge Centre on Alibaba.com holds a breadth of information and advice on trading globally, including setting up an online business, taxes and duties, sourcing from overseas suppliers and safe payment methods. There is also a selection of videos featuring Alibaba.com customers who share their experiences, including the pitfalls and the challenges they faced, which will help and inspire other small businesses to make a success of their ventures.
* Research conducted on behalf of Alibaba.com by Trends Research on a sample of 1400 UK small businesses during August 2010.

Book your ticket for Go Global!

Linda will be a guest at our Go Global event on 15th November, and Alibaba.com representatives will be offering advice and support to Enterprise Nation readers throughout Global Entrepreneurship Week from 14th – 18th November. Read the full programme of events and book your ticket.

Read more international trade advice from Linda

Five tips for successful exporting How to trade safely internationally How to get the most from international suppliers Go Global logo Globe image by Horia Varlan

Have your say

Liz Broomfield
Liz Broomfield

I also feel that working with worldwide clients protects me from the downturns in economic situations - not all countries are down at the same time (I hope!).

I do find it a little amusing that I, in the UK, am regularly outsourced to by Chinese and Indian companies, but that's because of the nature of the work I do.

I really enjoy working with clients all round the world, especially when we have little chats about the weather, their offices etc. - always interesting.

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