Right Advice Is the Key to Foreign Trade; Growing Businesses Are Increasingly Looking Further Afield to Continue Their Expansion. MARTIN HULLS, Partner and Head of Corporate Finance at Ward Hadaway, Looks at Expanding Your Business Overseas

Article excerpt

FOR a region with a reputation of looking after its own when it comes to business, the North East is in fact one of the most outward-looking areas of the UK.

The past year has again seen record levels of exports from companies in the region - PS13.5bn worth in 2011, up from PS12bn in 2010 - with the prospect of further growth to come.

While the likes of multinationals such as Nissan are leading the way in the region''s export drive, there is no question that the willingness to look further afield and explore new markets is not just confined to the biggest companies.

As well as export values rising, the number of companies selling North East-made goods and services around the world is also increasing with small to medium-sized enterprises looking to expand their horizons.

Despite the suggestion from a survey this summer that SMEs were being put off exporting by the continuing debt problems in the Eurozone, there is a growing body of evidence that smaller companies with the desire to expand their enterprises are not put off by the prospect of doing business overseas.

Many are now looking beyond Europe, following where the real global growth is coming from in markets such as China, India and South America.

The availability of technology and the instant communication offered by the internet mean that you don''t have to be a major player with a lot of backing to be a success overseas.

The world is certainly a smaller place when it comes to business than it was even 10 years ago, but there are some important things in the export sphere which have not changed.

First of all, you need a good product or service.

This is the same the world over - no matter how good your marketing, how fancy your website and how enthusiastic a salesman you are, if the end product is not good enough, it won''t sell.

Then you need to know how you are going to get it to market - how will you sell the product or service, who will ultimately deliver it to your end user on the other side of the world? And, very importantly, how can you ensure you get paid for all your hard work? For these issues and many more associated with overseas trade, getting the right professional advice at the right time can be crucial to success.

At Ward Hadaway, we have been helping companies to fly the flag for the North East in markets across the world for many years. …