THERE might be plenty of written information available to companies looking to export for the first time.
But there’s nothing like being able to chat to someone with experience when you’re looking for reassurance that you’re going about things in the right way.
And a series of masterclasses is offering entrepreneurs the chance to hear from both advisors and peers, as they develop their strategy for overseas trade.
Organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT), the free events taking place across the country are designed to help businesses wherever they are on their exporting journey.
“We work with attendees to help them identify the benefits of exporting and better understand the building blocks to success,” says DIT advisor Chris Simpson, who delivers an Introduction to International Trade masterclass.
“Attendees will then begin to build their individual export strategy with a better understanding of the support available to them.”
Supporting businesses to start exporting is an important element of the masterclasses, but they also offer guidance and training to occasional and regular exporters in order to build a national exporting movement.
Jo Small, director at Optima Training, runs delegates through the basics of German language and culture as part of her Exporting to Germany masterclass.
“Some attendees are just starting to export, some have been exporting for ages but want to learn and expand,” she says. “It’s a really great opportunity to meet other SMEs in your region, discuss different challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve been overcome. Businesses learning and growing together – that’s something sustainable.”
The opportunity to meet counterparts from SMEs who had faced barriers to exporting proved invaluable to Caroline Davis, a paramedic who set up Tumbles and Grumbles to deliver paediatric first aid training to parents and carers. She recently attended an Introduction to Exporting workshop in north-east England.
“It afforded me the opportunity to ask questions and to see examples of other businesses that had done well, and not so well, on an international platform,” she says.
For Simon Crosby, one of the region’s international trade advisors, this is also one of the most enjoyable elements of delivering the training sessions. “I love to see the interaction between the delegates as this can really complement the workshop,” he says.
Three tips from the experts:
- Seek as much support as possible “Speak to experienced professionals such as DIT international trade advisers and those who have been there and have all the scars.” Chris Simpson, DIT
- Do your research “You might identify Germany as your target market, but there are lots of regional differences between North and South Germany and you need to think about these before you start exporting.” Jo Small, Optima Training
- Preparation is key “Whether that is selecting the right markets to target or making sure that there is demand for your product or service, the correct planning can save you a lot of time, money and heartache.” Simon Crosby, DIT
Further details of masterclasses across England are available via the relevant regional DIT sites for East of England, London, North East, North West, South East, South West, East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber. DIT delivers additional masterclasses via its touring Export Hub.