Why Partner With a UK Export Consultant? The Benefits For SMEs

October 25, 2023
Why Partner With a UK Export Consultant? The Benefits For SMEs

Regardless of your specific operation, exporting goods can be a challenging endeavour – and this is especially true for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

With the number of small (less than 49 employees) businesses numbering 5.47 million, and the number of medium-sized (50-249 employees) enterprises at 35,900, SMEs represent over 99% of the UK’s private sector companies ( As an owner or operator, the trading hurdles you face can be numerous:

  • Complex Customs Regulations: SMEs often struggle to navigate the intricate web of customs rules and regulations, leading to delays and potential fines.
  • Compliance Challenges: Similarly, staying compliant with ever-evolving trade laws can be daunting, causing SMEs to inadvertently violate rules.
  • Market Entry Barriers: Establishing a foothold in foreign markets requires extensive market research, local knowledge, investment, and strategic planning, which SMEs may lack.
  • Resource Constraints: SMEs often lack the in-house expertise and resources needed to efficiently manage export operations.
  • Financial Risks: Exporting goods can be capital-intensive. SMEs may face financial risks, especially when expanding into new or unfamiliar markets.

Imagine an SME – let’s say a family-owned artisanal brewer – excited to introduce their products to international markets. However, they quickly encounter challenges. Will specific licences be required, and how should the company set about obtaining them? What are the particular compliance regulations in each target region? Are there any geopolitical, health and safety, or trade embargo situations that might affect operations?

Customs paperwork becomes a maze, causing shipment delays. Compliance issues arise as they grapple with shifting regulations. Market research proves overwhelming and resource-draining. To compound all this, financial risks loom as they invest in export operations without a complete strategic understanding.

But here’s the good news: SMEs don’t have to deal with this challenge alone.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons why partnering with a UK export consultant is not just a smart move but a strategic advantage for SMEs looking to thrive in the competitive global marketplace.

What Does an Export Consultant Do?

Export consultants are seasoned professionals with a deep understanding of international trade intricacies. Essentially, they serve as trade guides, helping SMEs navigate the complex terrain of global markets. These experts offer a range of services, including:

  • Customs Compliance: They ensure SMEs meet customs requirements accurately, reducing delays and penalties.
  • Market Entry Strategies: Export consultants devise market-specific strategies, providing SMEs with valuable insights and reducing risks.
  • Regulatory Guidance: Keeping abreast of ever-changing trade laws, they ensure SMEs remain compliant.
  • Risk Mitigation: By identifying and addressing potential risks, consultants safeguard SMEs from financial losses.

Here at clearBorder, we offer a range of specialised import and export consultancy services, including:

Export consultants often also offer training modules to upskill SMEs’ teams, ensuring they are well-prepared for international trade operations. For instance, we’re pleased to provide skills development training in the areas of Plants and Plant Products, Importing and Exporting, and Food and Animal Products.

Services like these play a pivotal role in SMEs’ growth. They simplify export processes, enhance market entry strategies, ensure regulatory compliance, develop skill sets across teams, and help mitigate risks.

Export Consultants’ Impact on SME Growth

Export consultants are catalysts for SME growth. Their expertise not only streamlines export operations, but also empowers SMEs to explore new markets, diversify revenue streams, and achieve sustainable growth in an increasingly competitive global landscape.

By helping businesses navigate the complexities of international trade more smoothly, export consultants open doors to opportunities that SMEs might find challenging to access on their own.

They provide invaluable insights, minimise risks, and optimise strategies, all of which contribute to long-term success and resilience for SMEs within global marketplaces.

Why You Need an Export Consultant: 5 Benefits for UK SMEs

In a globalised world, SMEs face unique challenges when attempting to expand their reach beyond national borders. Export consultants play a pivotal role in helping these businesses not only overcome obstacles but also thrive internationally.

1. Market Expansion Made Easy

Expanding into foreign markets can be a complex process with a myriad of cultural, legal, and logistical intricacies. Export consultants possess the knowledge and experience to identify and tap into lucrative foreign markets, ensuring your products or services reach their full global potential. This includes understanding local consumer preferences, negotiating trade agreements, and navigating language and cultural differences.

2. Ensure Ongoing Trade Compliance

Even at the best of times, international trade regulations and compliance requirements can be daunting. With different countries imposing a multitude of rules and standards, SMEs can easily find themselves overwhelmed. Export consultants are well-versed in these complexities, ensuring that SMEs adhere to all necessary regulations. This not only safeguards your business but also reduces the risk of costly penalties, saving valuable time and resources.

3. Tailored Strategies for Success

One size does not fit all in international trade, and so export consultants craft bespoke strategies that align specifically with SME goals and resources. For instance, if you’re a tech startup seeking to expand globally, an export consultant may devise a strategy tailored to your unique value offering and target markets. This optimisation of your international trade approach can significantly bolster your chances of success.

4. Risk Mitigation

From currency fluctuations to geopolitical instability, the world of international trade is fraught with risks. Export consultants – at least, good ones – will conduct thorough risk assessments, helping SMEs anticipate and mitigate potential pitfalls. For example, they might identify potential disruptions in the supply chain or advise on how to manage the risks associated with exporting to politically volatile regions. This proactive approach protects your business from financial losses and unexpected setbacks.

5. Expert Guidance and Training

Export consultants provide valuable training to your team, imparting knowledge that fosters self-sufficiency and resilience in international trade activities. In turn, this reduces your dependence on external support and empowers your team to handle international transactions competently. As your employees gain expertise in global trade, your business becomes more agile and adaptable, ready to tackle new international opportunities with confidence.

Choosing the Right Export Consultant for Your UK SME

When it comes to expanding your UK SME into international markets, partnering with an international trade consultant is a strategic move that can make all the difference. They offer a comprehensive suite of services: from ensuring HMRC compliance and navigating customs processes, to providing bespoke support throughout your export journey.

However, not all export consultants are equal in expertise and reliability.

When selecting a consultant, prioritise experience and a proven track record. Investigate the consultant’s partnerships, and ask to see case studies that demonstrate their success in helping businesses like yours achieve export growth. Beware of consultants who lack transparency, offer vague explanations, or make promises that sound too good to be true.

At clearBorder, our team of specialist UK export consultants is committed to empowering UK SMEs in international trade. With years of experience and a track record of success, we provide expert support, facilitate import-export support, and offer insights into every aspect of overseas trading operations.

Contact us today to explore how our specialist export consultancy services can drive your SME’s international success.