Fast Lane: The export vacuum – why SMEs need more support

Fast Lane: The export vacuum – why SMEs need more support

Every year in SmartCompany’s annual Smart 50 awards there is one category which doesn’t attract many entries.

It’s the export category. 

There have been some great winners in the past but the depth of entries is not there, suggesting a dearth of top SMEs exporting.

According to Australia’s International Business Survey published today, lack of information is holding potential exporters back. 

More than half of the 1600 Australian exporters surveyed identified a lack of information on local culture, business practice, and language as major barriers to exporting. 

A further 49% claimed they needed to know more about local regulation, and 45% admitted they struggled to obtain payments from international counterparts.

The Export Council of Australia has called on the Australian government to invest more resources in trade support to overcome the barriers faced in international markets across both advanced and developing economies, as well as addressing the barriers that negatively impact on Australia’s international competitiveness.

There’s not much the government can do about the high Australian dollar but clearly SMEs do need some additional help.

What’s holding SMEs back is a lack of knowledge about international markets and a reluctance to take measured business risks on unfamiliar territories where the culture, language and social make-up throw up their own problems.

How about more state and territory governments following the lead of the Victorian government and taking SMEs along on international trade missions?

There’s no better way to combat a lack of information than to be on the ground making contacts and exploring the culture.

SMEs shouldn’t feel that just because they don’t have export departments and consultants they can’t look internationally.

The core principles of successfully doing business, and why people buy and sell, do not fundamentally change whatever country you’re in.

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