The construction sector is experiencing the fastest rate of hiring for over 15 years, the pound is stronger than it was 2 years ago across 18 major currencies, and countries are beginning to partner on deals which encourage trade globally.
To accommodate this, business funding has become a hot-topic amongst the SME and corporate community, with the rise of alternative debt and equity funders (e.g. the crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and invoice discounting companies such as MarketInvoice).
Yet 70% of businesses are struggling with getting funding, particularly for purchasing goods and services from overseas, which is surprising given the current position of the UK economy.
Sadly, many companies don’t know where to begin when it comes to funding their business, but what doesn’t help, is that business funding is complicated. Depending on the stage of your business, how much capital you already have, how quickly you need the funding and how long you’ll need it for, the funding you require could vary immensely.
Trade finance, an umbrella term for the ‘financing of international trade’, covers a range of financial products which can help importers and exporters trade. International import and export businesses have the added complications of understanding the mechanisms of trade finance, which involves jurisdiction across different countries, language barriers, understanding shipping protocol and insuring their order.
The most common form of trade finance is a Letter of Credit or Bill of Lading, which are both mechanisms to securitise the assets which are being transported or shipped; in other words, the goods or services are the security to which a funder will lend.
For companies looking to import or export, we’ve put together some tips for ensuring success:
1. Do your due diligence
Most business owners in the space will be aware of their competitors in their market, and the competitors of their suppliers. It’s not hard to pull import or export data from government website or through calling local experts on the field. It’s also worth sense checking your suppliers and customers – are they creditworthy and reliable, do they have trusted reviews?
2. Learn about importing and exporting
Aside from a Letter of Credit Trade Finance deal, it’s vital to understand the mechanisms of transporting and shipping – from freight forwarding, to Bills of Lading. It may be a good idea to go on an education course such as ABTS Training.
3. Talk to a broker
Brokers can offer recommendations or suggestions for a business which could save them time and money. Also, because of their established relationships with many funders, they may be able to negotiate a better deal or rate and find the option which is most suitable for your business.
4. Know your risks
Business owners should know from the outset what the risks and challenges are before undertaking a trade finance deal. Mitigating or reducing these risks through insurance, credit checks, independent analysis and understanding the market that they’re operating versus opportunity and financial benefit of a deal can help determine the go-no-go decision.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of negotiation
Whether it’s your customers, suppliers or financiers, negotiation can often be the make or break for your business. Being able to negotiate terms, prices and rates in a competitive market could give your business a financial advantage.
To conclude, raising funding to help succeed in your import or export business is not easy, but can bring unrivaled success and opportunity for your company. Understanding the fundamentals of the import/export market, mitigating risks and planning carefully though are crucial to protect yourself and the company.