Here at Rugged we’ve always been keen to export, and from year 2 we were already sending our products far and wide out across the world. However, with any growing company, there are always areas of business that fall outside your patch of expertise. For us, exporting our products to Canada and Cambodia, Kentucky and Kuwait were areas we needed a little help with.
So it was natural for us to engage with the Department for International Trade (DIT) - or the DTI as it was called back in 2011.
New Markets, New Challenges
Export is never quite the smooth exchange of goods for payment across borders that perhaps people think it is, and the advent of Brexit and covid-19 complications has made it far worse for European business. But we have always found the DIT a constant and very useful point of contact when first moving towards an overseas sale. Especially when the country in question is well and truly over the horizon. I have many times spoken directly to staff within the British Embassy to gain valuable insight into local customs, and their advice on expected payment terms has been invaluable.
Most recently, the DIT made it onto our speed dial list when dealing with a substantial sale to a play park in Qatar. This involved dealing with a highly bureaucratic company structure, as well as exchange rates and customs issues. Speaking to the DIT was reassuring and useful as we navigated this sale. Plus, they helped manage our expectations, which sometimes is half the battle.
The Exhibition Beast
For any company, exhibitions are expensive and exhausting, tiring and tremendous. For small companies, the big decision comes when weighing up the cost-benefit. This year, Rugged are exhibiting as far and wide as Las Vegas and Dubai, with a little help from the funds available at the DIT. The financial support has allowed us to be bigger, better and stretch wider across the world.
So overall, I’d most definitely encourage companies to export; it’s always interesting, and may well open up a substantial new market for your product - just be careful with import duties, local norms and expectations, you never know what Google Translate might mess up!
By Simon Heap