As the UK progresses along the tortuous path towards Brexit, all eyes are turned towards opportunities in overseas markets. But it’s as well to reflect on why – unlike its European counterparts – Britain has under-performed in these markets in the past. Our competitors face the same obstacles, challenges and barriers to trade that are faced by UK exporters yet, although the UK has excellent quality, innovative and competitively priced products and services, we lag well behind other nations in establishing and developing business in overseas markets.

Numerous surveys have been conducted by government and private sector organisations over the years to try to pin down the reasons why British companies are reluctant to export. Time and again, risks, costs and fear of the unknown continue to be the deciding factors but, again, these challenges face our competitors – even more significantly, nations that don’t have the benefit of having English – the world’s preferred business language-  as their first language.

The government sees a bright future in new Free Trade Agreements and exciting opportunities in overseas markets. But this ‘pump priming’ will have no beneficial effect unless British companies get over ingrained fears and apprehensions about exporting. It is a proven fact that this is best accomplished by developing an Export Strategy, training export staff, conducting effective market and cultural research and investing time and resources in nurturing new business in overseas markets.

Now is the time for a new, intelligent way of building business in foreign markets and it’s one that will rely on entrepreneurs developing a measured, informed and professional approach to exporting.