How small businesses can export their big ideas…

Jim_Maxwell,_Business_Development_Manager,_Co-operative_Development_Scotland_resizedThis week 60 events are taking place across Scotland as part of Export Week designed to highlight international opportunities for Scottish businesses.

Here, Jim Maxwell, Business Development Manager, Co-operative Development Scotland, looks at how local can be the new global.

 

This week is all about getting Scottish businesses to think big. Scottish Development International (SDI) has been rallying small businesses to look at the international opportunities that are at their fingertips.

Some small and medium companies (SMEs) can be wary of venturing into overseas markets, when customers at home are top priority. But many Scottish firms have already taken a leap of faith and are now blazing a trail abroad in areas like food and drink, textiles, engineering and IT.This week is all about getting Scottish businesses to think big. Scottish Development International (SDI) has been rallying small businesses to look at the international opportunities that are at their fingertips.

Food & drink is one of Scotland's thriving export sectors.

Food & drink is one of Scotland’s thriving export sectors.

The fact that Scotland is geographically on the fringes of Europe may make foreign markets look forbidding.

Help is available from SDI for those firms with fears over red tape.

One solution for companies wishing to dip their toes into international waters is to form an export consortium.

This can cut the risks around exporting and make it easier for public agencies to channel their support in areas such as overseas market intelligence and trade visit support.

 

The consortium model has proved its worth in Scotland. Companies come together and get involved in jointly tendering for business.We believe this model is ideally suited for smaller seeking to enter export markets.

So how does it work? The consortium co-operative model enables a group of businesses break in to international markets. This new legal entity allows members to:

diagram

It’s all about having a shared purpose and this flexible approach can mean anything from:
selling into the same overseas market
• targeting the same customers
• benefiting from the same market information or research

This is radical stuff.

Businesses that once saw each other as competitors inside the UK may now find collaboration works for them outside the UK, in export markets.

If collaboration in exporting is to succeed it is vital to have the right advice from the outset, and to agree clear ground-rules. Setting up the consortium is where the experience of Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) comes into play.

Through our specialist advisers (and working alongside industry experts in SDI and Scottish Enterprise) CDS provides a full, free, support service covering everything from:

1. co-ordinating the initial discussions
2. providing the right legal structure
3. articles of association
4. members’ agreement

Textiles is another thriving export sector in Scotland

Textiles is another thriving export sector in Scotland

Of course the challenge can be – for businesses interested in working together – to find each other in the first place.

CDS can help initial conversations with those firms who come forward and help establish a willingness, in principle, to collaborate.

If this sounds like an interesting idea for you and your firm check out our link for more details: http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/microsites/co-operative-development-scotland.aspx

 

 

Also why not drop an e-mail to Jaye Martin – jaye.martin@scotent.co.uk

Co-operative Development Scotland is a Scottish Enterprise subsidiary, established to help companies grow by setting up consortium, employee-owned and community businesses. It works in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

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