No business is too small to join Ireland’s big drive for exports!

As an open economy with a population of less than five million, developing export activity is of critical importance to Ireland.

That goes for businesses of all sizes, including small and medium ones as well as micro businesses which employ fewer than 10 people.

It includes businesses already in operation and start-ups too because, put simply, Ireland needs to export more.

An OECD report in 2019 found that just 6.3pc of Irish businesses exported. That figure, it suggests, needs to be closer to 10pc if Ireland is to have the resilience we require in our enterprise base.

That was before a pandemic which has greatly increased our exposure to risk.

Being a small business is no impediment to export success but preparation is key.

Because developing exports is an important strategic objective of Enterprise Ireland, it has partnered with the Local Enterprise Office network to launch a new webinar series called Export Compass.

This online series is free and is open to all companies. As well as expert advice it features small business owners willing to share the benefit of their experience in terms of tips for success and pitfalls to avoid.

The webinars are tailored to suit micro and SME businesses who are either just starting out or who wish to grow an existing business through export sales.

There are five webinars in the series, the first two of which are available to view now on Enterprise Ireland’s website. Three more webinars will take place on February 25, and on March 11 and 25.

Each covers practical advice on specific issues, including assessing your reasons for exporting – or not, choosing the right market and identifying customers within it.

Understanding business culture in your priority markets is vital too, and the series includes representatives from some of Enterprise Ireland’s 40 overseas offices.

While the pandemic has created huge challenges, it has also accelerated the adoption of digital business practices.

It is now the norm to seek and win new business overseas entirely online, a fact which presents Irish businesses with enormous opportunities.

The Export Compass webinar series outlines tools and techniques to help win export customers in a digital world.

It also provides information about the funding and finance options available as you prepare and execute your export plan.

Research is vital.

Developing exports has never been less about jumping on a plane, but about developing a strategy and putting the necessary structures in place first, including management capacity.

Businesses are already mindful of how, as a result of Brexit, there are now additional costs involved in trading with the UK, the Irish exporter’s traditional first port of call.