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Exporting: how small firms started trading overseas

ExportingFor a small business, exporting can seem scary and it's invariably a steep learning curve for any entrepreneur who decides to grow their business through international trade. That said, it has been cited as key to economic recovery and the government has long encouraged small businesses to accelerate their growth through overseas sales. The good news is that it is not as hard as it seems and there is plenty of help available.

For Janan Leo, the co-founder and creative director of Cocorose London, exporting was never part of the plan when she launched her business designing and selling fold-up ballet pumps. "I didn't have a clue about exporting," she says. "Our Italian distributor spotted our product in a boutique in east London eight months after our launch and approached us. By taking that opportunity we really made it happen and it has worked out well for us."

She says launching abroad was daunting at first. "Initially, when I did the costings for the business I had not planned for exporting, so that was quite a shock — there are so many different fees involved in trading overseas and I had not taken into account a distributor and agent margin," she explains.

Some businesses are conceived with exporting in mind — one of them is the snack company New York Delhi. Having started out as a spice business, founder Nina Uppal decided to branch into snack and nuts a year and a half later, with the main product being VIP nuts. "As soon as the brand was born we knew that we ought to get it out there, we knew it was good. Even if you don't understand English, everybody in the world understands VIP," she explains.


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