SMEs’ international ambitions thwarted by limited knowledge

Britain’s small business community is calling for greater support to develop its international trade.

Almost three quarters of SMEs who have ambitions to trade with countries overseas have admitted they feel they are held back by a lack of knowledge about what is involved.

Common obstacles included scant understanding of local markets and difficulties unpicking the often intimidating set of requirements.

More than 1,000 small and medium-sized firms were interviewed by HSBC for their new study, entitled Exporting for Growth: The SME Perspective.

Of those who participated in the questionnaire, some were already exporting goods overseas, while others were weighing up their options.

Mark Emmerson, HSBC’s head of global trade and receivables finance UK, said that it was unfortunate that businesses with clear ambitions often felt put off by a lack of understanding.

“Businesses often feel the resources they need can be hard to find. Encouraging exports is a win-win for the British economy and its small businesses, so we must work together to help support SMEs take their businesses global,” he said.

“In fact, there is a clear need for government, banks and businesses to do more to give SMEs the bespoke support they need to flourish globally.”

HSBC said that ministers and senior figures in the financial sector needed to do more to consider SMEs when conducting trade negotiations and also share best practice.