Businesses across the Northwest have been urged to take the first steps to export and take advantage of all available support to help them on that journey.
Chris McFarlane Baxter, trade advisor to the Department of International Trade, told a conference attended by business leaders from across the region: “Your customers can be anywhere.”
The event at Bolton Whites Hotel, organized by Lancashire Business View magazine in association with the DIT, focused on how businesses start their international trade journey and where it can take them.
Chris, who is responsible for implementing the government’s export academy program in the North West, said: “If you have products or services that are sold in the UK, you can find markets elsewhere.”
He explained how the free academy program seeks to lay a solid foundation for companies considering taking their first steps in international trade.
The program is just part of a wide range of support and expertise available from the DIT and other organizations to help companies start or expand their foreign trade.
That includes the Government Internationalization Fund, which is available to SMEs with matching funding of up to £9,000 available. The fund can be used for a variety of activities including market research, translation services, market visits, trade show attendance and consultancy.
Chris urged businesses to take a proactive approach to international trade and see the positives, including the reputation for quality British products and services have around the world. “There is an opportunity,” he said.
He added: “We try to encourage people to think more strategically about international trade.”
The breakfast event, one of a series hosted across the region, brought together knowledgeable support professionals and business leaders who have benefited from the help available.
John Pickervance, director of Forbes Solicitors; from the commercial department, David Gorton, international liaison partner at accounting firm PM+M, and Bill Ranatunga, vice president of the northern office at marketing communications firm Weber Shandwick, joined forces to give their advice to potential exporters.
They included taking steps to manage risk and protect intellectual property, the best ways to secure payment, and how to deliver the right messages in unfamiliar foreign markets.
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The audience in Bolton also heard from three North West business owners at different stages of their export journeys who have benefited from DiT’s support and advice.
Pamela Moffat’s p3od of business offers human resources, organizational development, and training and development services. She told the meeting how she was researching and exploring potential overseas markets for her services, including Australia and, closer to home, the Republic of Ireland.
She said: “The ambition is absolutely there. DiT’s tips have been absolutely brilliant from day one, encouraging us and helping us build our confidence.
“If you can sell it in the North West of England, you can sell it anywhere, it really comes down to that mindset.”
Dom Raban is the co-founder and CEO of Xploro, a patient engagement platform that uses augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and games to reduce anxiety for young patients going to the hospital.
Dom established Manchester-based Xploro in 2016 after his daughter recovered from cancer treatment and realized the importance of providing patients with information about their treatment, something that was missing from his daughter’s experience.
The award-winning platform is now used in hospitals in the UK, US, Europe and Africa. He explained how the company was in the process of establishing a parent company in the US while looking to increase US investment.
Dom said the company’s first export order was for the prestigious Boston Children’s Hospital in the US, explaining, “Exporting is central to everything we do. We realized that exporting a successful business was essential and we built the platform with localization in mind from day one.”
He added: “We’ve had a lot of support from DiT over the years, including from the Internationalization Fund, which we use to help us with specialized translation.”
Dom also highlighted the importance of tapping into the local knowledge of DiT’s network of trade experts in consulates around the world.
Television cameraman John McKeown founded his company Wolftown to create a spirits brand inspired by the Norse origins of his hometown of Ulverston. Wolftown currently has two multi-award winning gins, with plans for one more spirit in 2022.
John said the business was in its early stages but international trade was on his future radar and he had been on a DiT trade mission to the Republic of Ireland.
He said: “Ireland would be a very good place to start; At the moment I’m just building my knowledge. DiT really simplifies the export process, breaking it down into basic steps and demystifying it.”
Click on the image below to see the gallery of the event
For more information visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-international-trade