A further 880,000 small businesses plan to start exporting their goods and services by 2025, according to the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) and business e-lender, Everline.
If reached, the study shows that 17% of British, small firms will be exporting, up from 10.8% currently taking advantage of export opportunities.
After growing their workforce (39%), exporting was the preferred method of international expansion in the next 10 years. However, there was wide variation in the UK's regions. Nearly a third (30%) of small businesses in London said they are planning to export within in the next 10 years. That compares to 17% in the Midlands, 13% in the South (excluding London) and just 11% in the North.
The industries most likely to engage in exporting over the next 10 years are IT and telecoms (29%), manufacturing (26%) and media, marketing and PR (23%). At the other end of the export scale, finance and accounting firms (7%) had low intentions of expanding abroad, as did retail outlets (14%) despite online opportunities making it much easier to scale internationally.
Russell Gould, COO at Everline, said: “Although the number of small businesses planning on expansion overseas is hugely positive, more could be done to encourage small businesses in this area, particularly outside of London. The latest Annual Business Survey figures show that a third of medium sized businesses and 41% of large businesses currently take advantage of export growth. Small businesses should work with industry bodies like the UKTI to see what opportunities exist and get advice on how to grow their business overseas.”
Sam Alderson, economist at Cebr, said: “The government has rightly highlighted the need to boost the UK’s level of exports. However, their target to increase annual exports to £1tn by 2020 looks likely to be missed by quite some way. While the increase in the number of small businesses looking to expand overseas is encouraging, the share remains relatively low. Given that tapping into the export potential of the UK’s small business community could provide a major boost to exports, encouraging small firms to look for opportunities overseas should remain a key priority in coming years.”