UK SMBs will be Trading Internationally by 2016

YouGov
October 03, 2014, 11:30 AM UTC

A New study by YouGov on behalf of Citrix has found that six out of ten of small and medium businesses (SMB) in the UK expect to be doing business internationally in 2016.

The survey revealed that 6 in 10 (60%) of UK SMBs expect to be doing business internationally in 2016. This represents a 20% increase on the number of UK SMBs currently selling or sourcing products and services abroad. Over the next two years, the 2,000 UK SMBs surveyed in 11 regions project that their international business relationships will increase in both scope and importance to their business.

The main findings are below:

  • 20% expect to increase the number of countries they trade with by 2016
  • 28% expect revenue from international sales to increase by 2016
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) of those trading internationally say international business partners will be important to their business in 2016, over two fifths that they will be very important (42%)

However, the report indicates that many UK SMBs are still not convinced by the benefits of international trading. The two biggest reasons cited for not doing more international business were that products or services weren’t relevant to trading internationally (19%) and there is more opportunity for growth locally (15%).

The study highlights how UK SMBs are increasingly building relationships in new and emerging markets, as communication technologies and global logistics networks reduce the barriers to trade. Of those currently selling internationally (42%) almost one in two sell through the business’ own websites (45%) and a growing number (14%) are using online marketplaces. 

Th findings also show that younger SMB managers are more positive on expectations for revenue growth (23% more likely to project growth) and expansion in numbers of countries they trade with (60% more likely). They are also pioneering new social and digital communications channels to build and maintain relationships with international business partners, highlighting the role an increasingly networked world is playing in enabling SMBs to work with international partners.

However, younger SMB managers are also more likely to have employees on the ground in local markets, underlining the continuing importance of a local presence.

Technology and marketing services companies are the most bullish on expectations for international expansion and revenue growth. Nearly four in ten (36%) IT and Telecoms SMBs expect to increase revenues from international sales by 2016, whilst over a third (34%) expect to increase the number of countries they trade with. Unsurprisingly, it is also the sector most likely to use video conferencing to communicate with partners (54%) while marketing services SMBs are among the heaviest users of social networks (31%).

See full poll results

More information on YouGov's Business Omnibus here