The three Rugby World Cup fixtures held in Newcastle earlier this month provided a truly unforgettable spectacle, and its legacy is hopefully going to be much more than just a sporting one.
High profile trade delegations from both New Zealand and South Africa took the opportunity to visit the North East with the aim of encouraging regional businesses to investigate the opportunities for opening new, mutually-beneficial trade links.
I always find it odd how international sport is an endless topic of conversation, yet find the idea of trading with customers in another country is often considered such a big deal.
It might be because that there’s sometimes an assumption that exporting is a major strategic business decision that requires an extensive plan and significant resources.
For some, this will indeed be the case, but our experience of investing in growing North East businesses that want to export suggests that the grand plan approach isn’t all that common.
Just as you probably wouldn’t expect to be picked to play for the All Blacks in your first ever rugby match, so you would most likely choose to start your exporting activities from a more humble point – business plans tend to start with one customer, probably on a small scale, and you learn from the experience.
From a finance perspective, we invest actively in business plans that include exporting or more modest sales around the UK. Businesses raising funds who export are normally already exporting on a smaller scale and have tested their approach and product in that market, so are seeking finance to further develop opportunities they’ve already uncovered.
This may, for example, be a decision to launch a product into a market with the scale and complexity of China, but for others it might simply be growing your sales by finding a distributor in somewhere closer to home, like the Republic of Ireland, and we have previously looked positively at both of these needs for funding as both enabled ambitious North East businesses to grow.
November 9th to 13th is Export Week, and UKTI, the Government department that works with UK businesses to assist their success in international markets has a whole series of events planned to encourage new or existing exporters to continue to stretch themselves.
As it stand, the North East is the only UK region that exports more than it imports, and we already lead the UK in selling our goods and skills to the rest of the world.
Even if your business ambitions are more modest than targeting the Far East or the Southern Hemisphere, and exporting across the border into Scotland is your sole aim, the North East still benefits from that ambition – the more we sell outside the North East, the more wealth is returned to and created here.
International success could be there for the taking if you choose to grab the export ball and run with it.