The Growth Company has today published a free-to-access guide for entrepreneurs and SMEs based in the North, to help sell their services to overseas markets.

The Going Global whitepaper is a practical guide, drawing on the insights and expertise of leading representatives from public and private sector bodies – including the Department for International Trade, DWF, NatWest, Tech Nation, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and GC Business Growth Hub, part of the Growth Company – with a huge amount of combined international experience.

While services dominate the majority of the UK’s economic output, contributing around 80% of GDP and accounting for 45% of its annual global exports, SMEs have demonstrated only a limited propensity for service exports and international trade. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, less than 8% of service businesses with up to 50 staff engage in international trade, rising to only 34% for firms with over 250 employees.

Richard Jeffery, Director of Business Growth at the Growth Company, said: “Against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic and the EU transition period, there’s never been a more critical time for UK businesses to consider exporting their services internationally.

“While this may seem counterintuitive, as it is undoubtedly a really tough time for business, SMEs across the North can really benefit from gaining access to global markets. Businesses that have the desire, focus and a real growth mindset can still succeed on the international stage. It is in this context that our new guide is designed to help SMEs explore new routes to market, and to encourage those that can export to take the leap of faith necessary for success.”

The downloadable whitepaper covers a range of insights that are pertinent for businesses looking to market, sell and deliver services overseas. It provides advice on crystallising the proposition and ensuring a business is ready to expand; creating an international roadmap with clear routes to market; and considering costs, legal factors, due diligence and localisation of services.

Sara Knowles, International Trade Team Leader at the Department for International Trade, said: “While it’s an exceptionally tough operating environment for many businesses at the moment, these times will pass and we’re encouraging companies of all sizes to keep their focus on longer term goals. There are signs that the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit remains in good health with almost 200,000 new businesses launched across the country during the last national lockdown between March and June.

“To maintain and nurture this entrepreneurial appetite, international trade must continue to be a key part of our collective business growth ambitions. Greater Manchester and the North still offer excellent and growing accessibility to a number of influential global markets. Now is the time to seize on this connectivity and begin making plans to increase trade; which will support the economic recovery from the global pandemic and help businesses to flourish.”

Companies across Greater Manchester looking to rapidly expand into multiple markets are invited to apply for the Global Scale-Up Programme from GC Business Growth Hub.