By Daniel Hunter

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK are hampering growth by missing out on export opportunities, according to new research by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Nearly two thirds (61%) of SMEs surveyed said they are not currently exporting and more than half (52%) have no plans to do so.

But almost one in three businesses (32%) that are already exporting said trading abroad will enable them to create up to ten new, local jobs in the next two years.

More support needed for small firms looking to export

In order to overcome their initial fears and challenges, almost a third (29%) believe that regulatory advice is essential to thrive in foreign markets while a quarter (25%) said that strong financial support is key to exporting successfully. Lastly a fifth (20%) of businesses said that market research expertise is also vital.

In spite of its recent instability, the Eurozone remains the biggest export target for small businesses, (27%) but opportunities remain further afield as 6% export to North America and Asia, while to the Middle East it is 3%.

Gareth Oakley, Managing Director for SME Banking, Lloyds Banking Group, said: “British products and services have an undisputed reputation around the world, and it’s important that small and medium sized firms look to foreign markets for opportunities to grow, not just in Europe but globally.

“This research highlights the areas in which small businesses need the greatest support so that we can help propel them to the international stage. Through our partnership with UK Trade and Investment or our commitment to increase trade finance by 25% this year, we are committed to helping businesses export. Seeking advice will help business owners overcome their initial fears and enable them to explore the opportunities further afield in growing markets.”