Guest post from Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

 

With home-based businesses being more likely to export than their non home-based colleagues, it can safely be said that home business owners have quite a role to play in stimulating international trade. Is it a route you want to take? Here’s how to go about it.

 

Expand your horizons. Increase trade.

Research carried out by Professor Colin Mason of the University of Strathclyde revealed that:

 

“The proportion of home-based businesses deriving more than half their sales from overseas customers – although very low (6%) – is actually greater than for other SMEs, indicating the presence of a small proportion of home-based businesses that are highly export-oriented.”

 

This is certainly something we see at Enterprise Nation; from the artisan who is importing Fair Trade bags from India, applying a special design, and selling them to the US, to the information publisher who is expanding his site to Sweden after spotting a gap in the market and forging local partnerships.

 

Follow these five steps to increase your own international sales.

  • Perfect your product – is yours a product that is likely to have high demand from customers overseas? Handmade and British craft products are popular, as are products and services appealing to a niche audience. If you cater to a niche audience in the UK, the likelihood is you’ll also be well received by customers overseas.
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  • Present yourself – you have your product/service, how do you present it to potential customers? For handmade goods, consider selling on international platforms such as Etsy.com Artfire.com and Dawanda.com. If you have your own site, sign up to payment providers such as PayPal so you can accept worldwide currencies. Consider having your site displayed in the local language as research from www.lingo24.com shows you’re more likely to make sales when content on your site is translated.
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  • Choose international suppliers – there is a support network of providers offering everything from parcel delivery to local call numbers and meeting space; companies such as Skype, parcel2go.com and Regus. Make the most of their international network to expand your own.
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  • Strengthen links – visit countries in which your trade is increasing to meet customers and win new ones. Keeping in touch with local customers and partners is now so straightforward with online project management and meeting tools such as Dimdim (www.dimdim.com), Huddle (www.huddle.net) and Basecamp (http://basecamphq.com)
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  • Tell your story – so others can be inspired to look overseas and achieve the same success. A good time to celebrate these stories is Global Entrepreneurship Week (www.gew.org.uk)

Without a doubt, home-based businesses are producing products and services that have global appeal. With the technology tools and applications now in place to help secure customers and partners, expect to see international trade flourish yet further!