By Daniel Hunter

A new survey carried out by a leading translation and transcription provider in the UK has revealed that 32% of UK small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that implementing an English-speaking website and other communication materials would suffice when attempting to trade or expand their business overseas.

Results of a new study conducted by a company specialising in professional translation and transcription services has revealed that almost one third of small and medium sized businesses in the UK polled would feel confident trading or expanding overseas only using English language communication tools; with over half, 55%, explaining that they believed that English was the ‘international language of business’, and so that is all that would be needed.

The study, carried out by Global Lingo, polled 1,067 owners of UK-based SMEs, currently only operating and trading in the UK. Respondents were asked questions relating to what they feel the main trepidations and barriers are for SMEs when it comes to expanding overseas and trading in new global markets.

Of those polled, 59% admitted that their main concern regarding trading overseas would be the ‘language barriers’, whilst 21% confessed it would be the lack of local knowledge and business practices that they would ultimately face. As well as this, 15% admitted that they would be most worried about the difficulties involved in adhering to different legal requirements when operating/ trading overseas.

Despite these initial findings, 29% of the SME business owners polled revealed that if they were to decide on expanding their business or trading overseas in the near future, they would rely solely on the English language for their website, marketing tools and other communications material. When asked why they would do so, the majority, 55%, explained that they believed English to be the ‘international language of business’ and was therefore the only language needed for trading overseas.

36% also admitted that they wouldn’t want the ‘expense’ of translating their website and communications material into their target country’s language; whilst 26% also admitted that they would be ‘nervous’ about trading in a language that they weren’t familiar with, or couldn’t speak themselves.

Furthermore, of the 29% of respondents who would use English when trading overseas, 53% sold products or services directly to consumers.

The team at Global Lingo decided to carry out the study to coincide with their campaign to boost UK trade overseas. As part of the campaign, the company is currently offering 100 UK businesses up to 1000 words of free translation, as well as free proof reading, on a first come first serve basis. The offer can be used as a free offer on its own, or as a credit towards a larger order if a business has a bigger piece of text or larger project they’d like translated.

Marketing Director of Global Lingo, Richard Michie, made the following comments regarding the study: “Time and time again we see SME businesses believe that in order to successfully expand their businesses overseas they can rely on English communication methods entirely, as they wrongly assume everyone else will be able to speak their mother tongue. This is simply not the case, particularly for those selling directly to consumers, and many could be missing out on a great deal of potential business by not taking the time to communicate effectively with their target audience. After all, would you feel confident purchasing a product or service that claimed to deliver in the UK, yet communicated entirely in Italian?”

“As our research shows, many businesses could benefit from taking the time to explore the various linguistic options available to them. This is precisely the reason we are offering our exclusive giveaway to businesses, hopefully raising awareness of the current lack of communication between UK businesses and their potential customers overseas, and bridging the gap to enable businesses of all sizes to take the leap and expand their services globally.”

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