19 January, 2012 - 15:04 By News Desk

Hair today – the world tomorrow!

One question I am often asked is: ‘Can any company export?’ I usually reply that international trade can work for a huge variety of different kinds of business, but I have to say that hairdressing is not one that comes immediately to mind. Well, sometimes it’s good for the soul to be proved wrong.

A good news story just in from East of England International Trade Adviser Ashley Almond is that one of her clients – a company that provides training to hair salons – has used our Export Market Research Scheme to help clinch a partnership deal in Australia.

The company is also using our Embassy team to explore options in Spain. I mentioned this to my colleagues and a surprising number of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) teams have stories to tell about companies in this sector being successful overseas.

So it is possible to do business halfway across the world even if your line of work is something that doesn’t sound like an export. I did an interview for a local radio station the other day. The presenter asked me what was available in this part of the world to help companies find out more about international trade, and I found myself working through a long list of organisations and people.

For starters, just think of the hundreds of companies that use Chambers of Commerce to make sure their exported goods have the right documentation and the freight forwarders that actually get the goods where they need to go.  And the many business organisations that play such a vital role in making sure their members get solid, up to date information about doing business overseas.

Every company has a bank, an accountant and a legal adviser and we are increasingly working with that network to make sure firms in our region get the encouragement and help they need to secure a foothold in international markets. And of course UKTI is the first place to look for a friendly, guiding hand and links to nearly 100 countries that could be buying from you.

I hope companies that listened to the programme also heard me talk about our New Exporter competition. It couldn’t be easier to enter. Two hundred words about your company’s export idea, and why you think now is the time for it to succeed, could get you a chunk of free market research as part of a prize package worth £5,000. There’s all the detail you need about the competition here http://www.ukti.gov.uk/exportingforgrowthprizeand you’ve got until 31 January to enter. So take a look – even if your business doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that travels well.

One final thing – the December trade statistics show that plenty of companies in the East of England are doing brilliantly overseas. Exports from companies based here topped the £25bn mark yet again in the 12 months to the end of September 2011, with the region accounting for almost one pound in every 10 of what the UK sells to the rest of the world. But we could do more, and my message is that even if you and your company have never thought of exporting, now's a good time to start.

Find out how UKTI can help your company succeed overseas at www.ukti.gov.uk

@UKTI

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