Exploring and expanding into new export markets is the logical next step for Irish SMEs looking to scale, develop and grow their businesses. It’s a matter of size after all. 5 million here, 8 billion people outside…or put another way, overseas markets are 1,600 times what the home market is.
Many of those companies that have joined #TeamGBS over our first 32 episodes have already navigated the uncertain waters of foreign markets and have learned a thing or two along the way. Being great #TeamGBS members, they’re also delighted to share those insights. But for a first step, the specialist knowledge of our State Agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Tourism Ireland should not to be underestimated.
Irish Embassy - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
It’s now commonly known that our embassies work with the State agencies to promote Irish trade (hence the trade term in their name!). They know the local networks in overseas markets, as well as the key diaspora players abroad. They can:
- Support Irish companies who want to find and access new markets and help with resolving commercial difficulties where possible.
- Provide general advice on doing business locally and, through their network of contacts.
- Pursue export and investment opportunities that will benefit Ireland.
- Work to secure market access for Irish products in key sectors.
We know and love Enterprise Ireland (or EI as everybody who uses their services like to call them). EI’s network of 40 overseas offices provides insight and direct support to companies seeking new markets or to expand an existing presence. Programmes such as Enter the Eurozone and the Export Compass series bring companies through the practicalities of starting their export journey, how to market products and services in local markets and a range of other issues.
- Food Works Ireland - start-up accelerator programme run by Bord Bia together with Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, that aims to develop the next generation of scalable and export-driven Irish food businesses.
- We love a great Trade Show at #TeamGBS, where companies can showcase their food and drink products across the globe. During normal times, these events occur annually and are an important part of any major food buyer’s diary, therefore an equally essential ‘go to’ for food exporters. They’ll be back.
- Research, research and more research your market and where better than at the Bord Bia Library where you’ll find more food related knowledge than you could shake a stick at.
Check out our recent blog post discussing Irish food and drink SMEs, many of which are flying high abroad. She was one of our first on #TeamGBS, Miena Rust of Miena’s Handmade Nougat (Episode 1), and we had the effervescent make of Coole Swan (Episode 7) Mary Sadlier – maker of the world’s best cream liqueur according to Wine Enthusiast magazine, and just starting a similar journey we were joined by Aidan Mehigan of Natterjack Irish Whiskey (Episode 10) – all great examples of how to take on the export markets successfully.
Window of opportunity
The prospect of expanding abroad is undoubtedly daunting for many Irish SMEs, yet this is where the harvests can be greatest. There are a broad range of supports including dedicated funding and programmes available for entrepreneurs brave enough to embark on the export journey. As highlighted by the Small Firms Association, “being in business for yourself doesn’t mean you have to be in business by yourself” – #TeamGBS has your back.