At Ideal, we've been building relationships with consumers and partners in markets around the world since the 1980s, when my father would embark on far-ranging trade visits to help spread the reach of our brand and aid our growth.
Developing a network of export and international trade has been some of the most fulfilling and enjoyable work that we've undertaken as a business, with the excitement of meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and creating lasting partnerships an amazing part of my role.
In recent years, we've been involved in a number of initiatives that have helped us to develop stronger trade and export links across Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. We've taken part in trade missions organised by UKTI, as well as exhibiting at major trade shows around the world.
Indeed, our latest overseas event has recently taken place in Milan and we hope it will open more new doors for us in the months to come. That said, I do feel that support for smaller businesses hoping to expand overseas could be better in the UK, and this is something we hope the government will look into in the near future.
If I had to offer my advice to any new business hoping to forge new relationships for trade and export, the first thing I would say is that the development of trust is integral to any lasting relationship.
Moreover, both parties involved in a trade agreement need to manage their financial risk. In this respect, I would always suggest that a letter of credit be obtained to offset any capital liabilities that could be incurred should a deal not turn out as expected.
I also feel that provenance can play an important part in helping to develop your brand and build trust overseas. We've seen ourselves, how the introduction of the 'Made in Britain' mark to our products has really helped in recent years to build trust in our brand among international consumers.
When planning any expansion, companies need to always focus on their strengths. This means ensuring you have a product that is of genuine interest and use to your target market, as well as having the confidence to be innovative and to show just why international partners should be working with you.
Ultimately, the cultivation of positive trade and export partnerships has been some of the most fun I've had during my career. It's given me the opportunity to explore the challenges of operating in a diverse global landscape, while expanding our reach to new and interesting markets.
Trade and export can be powerful tools to expand the scope and reach of your business, and I hope that the positive experiences we've had at Ideal can be replicated for you.