Start-up and small businesses shying away from exports, study reveals

Start-up and small businesses are shying away from export opportunities and favouring UK-only trade, a new report reveals.

The comments come from the International Business and Economics Research Group (IBERG) at Sheffield Hallam University, which recently published a comprehensive study documenting export activity amongst nationwide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who have been trading for five years or less.

Upon analysing data initially compiled by the Government in its recent Longitudinal Small Business Survey, the IBERG found that only a fifth of small British businesses currently export their output, while only 17 per cent of start-up or new businesses are taking advantage of overseas trade.

The figures come despite the fact that those business who have internationalised their trade typically generate a higher level of turnover – and are more productive – than those who trade solely in the UK, according to the report.

The IBERG’s study found that, of all of the businesses quizzed that had internationalised their operations, firms in the business services sector were the most likely to export (60 per cent) while British manufacturers were the least likely to export (six per cent).

Regionally, businesses in London, South East England, Yorkshire, Wales, Humberside and Northern Ireland ranked highly amongst the UK’s biggest exporters.