Leading e-lender, Everline and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) have joined forced to offer some valuable insight into the expansion plans of small businesses across Britain. The recent which was published earlier this month has shown that a substantial number of micro-enterprises up and down the country plan to expand their operations overseas by 2025, with London firms proving most likely.

The facts and figures

Figures have revealed that over the next decade, a notable 17% of British small businesses plan to engage in exporting, which accounts for around 880,000 companies. Although at first glance this Small businesses expand overseaspercentage may seem relatively modest, it is a definite increase from the 10.8% of micro-businesses currently capitalising on additional export revenues. When questioned about their expansion plans, those surveyed saw exporting as second only to growing their workforce (39%) as one of the main priorities.

The statistics found by Everline and the Cebr vary across different regions of the country and showed that there are nearly twice as many businesses (30%) in the capital expected to export by 2025. Small firms in the North are far less likely to expand overseas (11%), closely followed by the 13% in southern areas excluding London and the 17% in the Midlands.

Similarly, while a substantial 29% of IT & telecoms look to export, the quantity in the finance and accounting sector is much lower at 7%.  Manufacturing (26%) and media, marketing & PR (23%) are somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum.

What the experts had to say

COO of Everline, Russell Gould said: “Although the number of small businesses planning on expansion overseas is hugely positive, more could be done to encourage small businesses in this area, particularly outside of London.

“The latest Annual Business Survey figures show that a third of medium-sized businesses and 41 per cent of large businesses currently take advantage of export growth. Small businesses should work with industry bodies like the UKTI to see what opportunities exist and get advice on how to grow their business overseas.”

Economist at the Cebr, Sam Alderson added: “The government has rightly highlighted the need to boost the UK’s level of exports. However, their target to increase annual exports to £1 trillion by 2020 looks likely to be missed by quite some way.

“While the increase in the number of small businesses looking to expand overseas is encouraging, the share remains relatively low. Given that tapping into the export potential of the UK’s small business community could provide a major boost to exports, encouraging small firms to look for opportunities overseas should remain a key priority in the coming years.”

Chief executive of UKTI, Dr Catherine Raines is among those welcoming the rise in small businesses looking to export with open arms. She said: “Exporters of all sizes are more productive, innovative and resilient to economic downturns than non-exporters; they achieve a stronger bottom line; boost their reputation and profile; and are more likely to stay in business.”