New research from telecom provider EE has revealed that a growing number of UK SME’s have an appetite for growth abroad.
These results may seem surprising in the light of recent studies detailing the struggle UK SMEs have with exporting – and the current concern over the potential Brexit from the EU. However, the SME International Ambition research – undertaken by YouGov and commissioned by EE – found that 40% of small businesses say they are currently engaged in international trade and a further 6% intend to join them by 2021.
Europe is Top Target for SMEs
The study of 1,000 senior decision makers in British SMEs showed that when it comes to growth location, many respondents had their eye chiefly on Europe, with 82% saying they were currently trading with, or planning to trade with, Western Europe. Other target markets were:
Nordic countries : 44%
Eastern Europe: 42%
Australia and New Zealand: 33%
South America: 22%
South Africa: 21%
Northern Africa: 15%
Industries Looking To Expand Abroad
So which industries are keenest to spread their wings?
Manufacturing businesses were most likely to be trading abroad already or looking to do so in the near future, with 71% saying this is the case in their business. 67% of media and marketing companies and 43% of IT and telecoms companies are also already participating in foreign trade or plan to do so.
Crucial Tech Tools for Foreign Expansion
The study also showed which tools of the trade were considered essential for foreign trade.
75% said that it was important to be able to use mobile devices for calls, text, email, web access and file sharing while working abroad, just as they can at home.
70% said mobile technology helps them better interact with overseas customers, partners and prospects.
69% of the respondents said international calls are critical to their overseas business, and extremely important when travelling.
Lydia Hicks, Director of SME Product Marketing at BT said: “UK SMEs show no signs of holding back on their international business ambitions, so we’ve built our EE Business Extra+ plans to help them stay connected with international customers and partners, whether at home or abroad.”
EE’s Business Extra+ plans provide enhanced roaming options for UK SMEs when travelling to the US and Europe, aiming to allow businesses to use their smartphones in Europe or the USA just as they would at home. The new plans also include unlimited calls and texts between any of these destinations, plus EE’s Euro Data Pass as standard (giving customers 15GB of data a month) and up to 50GB of data per month in the UK
“Unlimited calls and texts to and from clients and partners overseas, plus generous 4G data allowances enable UK SMEs to focus on growing their businesses, rather than worrying about their bill. Plus, our superfast 4G in over 50 countries enables businesspeople to work as they would from home,” says Lydia Hicks.
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