British small business exporters are confident about their immediate prospects and 78% of business owners and managers believe 2015 will be better than 2014.
The survey found that the most popular new markets for exports are Europe (59%) and North America (44%). Other popular regions for export growth are: the Middle East (39%); Australasia (33%); and the Far East (31%).
The region that saw the biggest rise in export interest was South America, with 27% of SMEs planning to export there in 2015, with just 19% currently doing so.
A third of SMEs said that market analysis and research was the biggest factor in choosing where to export. Almost a quarter (23%) said that export markets were driven by incoming sales enquiries, while 14% said that existing business connections were the main factor. Only 4% said they relied on “gut feeling”.
However, many respondents also said they preferred to stay “close to home”, with 34% saying that “cultural similarity to the UK” heavily influenced their decision. In addition, 17% highlighted “positive media coverage of destination” as a factor. Having friends or family in the location, or having cultural roots in a country, were each highlighted by 12% of SMEs.
The research revealed that the most optimistic region in the UK was the Midlands, where 86% of respondents believe that 2015 will be better than this year, followed by the North East on 80%. The least confident region was Wales, on 60%.
Open to Export’s chairman, entrepreneur Julian Hucker, said: “Exporting to a new market is a big decision for many small businesses and with 57% looking online for information to help researching new markets, Open to Export aims to make it easy for them to find access to all the best information and support what’s out there.”