By Claire West
Britain’s businesses are being urged to take advantage of specialist export advice in light of the fact that 62% of companies in the UK are being held back from exporting by language barriers.
The rallying cry comes from Midlands-based language expert Comtec Translations off the back of recent figures released by the British Chamber of Commerce that state only five per cent of businesses in the UK speak enough French to do business in the country while 58% of companies are not confident they have a good enough product or service to market overseas. Comtec’s message is clear — take advantage of the extensive network of support available to successfully take your business overseas.
“There is an abundance of support available for businesses that need to take the first few steps to exporting. Organisations such as the UKTI offer introductory services to overseas markets and specialist translation providers can provide support around handling communications material for overseas trade. Your local Chamber of Commerce can also provide useful advice and support,” advises Sophie Howe, Managing Director, Comtec Translations, who was recently featured on national radio talking about the challenges the UK faces as an economy to develop the vital language skills businesses need to enter international markets.
The British Chamber of Commerce, which provides vital support for businesses looking to export, polled a total of 45,000 UK businesses and found that many lack the knowledge required to enter overseas markets but there is enough support available for businesses to overcome this barrier.
Energy absorption expert Oleo International is a great example of a business taking full advantage of opportunities overseas and benefitting from support to take its products abroad. Today, it represents the thirty thousand UK companies assisted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) in 2012/13; a number the government wants to grow to 100,000 in the next five years.
The UKTI team based at the Coventry Chamber of Commerce have been assisting Oleo since 2005 when Oleo commissioned some bespoke research on the Japanese rail sector. Since then UKTI has supported Oleo in a number of ways including attending important overseas trade shows, researching various markets including China and India and facilitating introductions to market experts around the world.
Oleo takes full advantage of export advice available and recently launched its new innovative rail simulation software Oleo 1D in China, with the support of Comtec. Providing specialist technical translators, Comtec localised the software for the Chinese market. In addition, a Chinese website was set up to host the simulation software. Oleo’s existing sales material, including brochures and leaflets were also translated into Chinese ready for Oleo to launch the software at CTRS in Shanghai recently.
Expansion into overseas markets has been critical to the growth of Oleo and this would have been made much harder if the company hadn’t taken advantage of the export support that is available to every UK business.
Brian Mountford, International Trade Advisor at the UKTI adds: “Oleo has made good use of UKTI services and our worldwide network in order to help it to research new overseas markets and opportunities, working with Comtec to successfully take products overseas. There is a huge network of support available for businesses looking to export. We assist new and novice exporters through to the larger companies that are household names with free, impartial advice. The UK has always been a trading nation and the importance of selling overseas is recognised by the UK Government who have set challenging targets to increase the number of exporters from 1 in 5 to the European average of 1 in 4 companies.
“Exporting has other advantages too - on average companies who export see a 34% increase in productivity in their first year of exporting; they are 11% more likely to survive and they benefit from operating in a more competitive environment; attracting and providing more opportunities for higher skilled workers.”