There is no such thing as a domestic market.
In a digital age, this is one of those observations that the boss of every small to medium-sized printing company should be compelled to write down, much as Bart Simpson is obliged to chalk some painfully acquired lesson such as “Nerve gas is not a toy” on the blackboard at the start of The Simpsons.
Those naysayers who insist that there is still such a thing as a domestic market are right, but only in a limited, self-defeating, short-term kind of way. Because in the long run, the viability of any small to medium-sized enterprise may, according to a new study (http://www.dp-dhl.com/content/dam/presse/pdf/2013/sme-competitiveness-study.pdf ) by DHL and the consultancy IHS, be directly related to their ability to compete internationally. After surveying 12 countries (including the UK, US and the BRICs), they found that 26% of SMEs with an international business were high-performers, compared to 13% of those SMEs who focused entirely on their home market. The study also identified that younger SMEs were more likely to be internationally-minded and were, as the report it, “born global”.
The most forward-looking SMEs weren’t just looking to export outside their home market. They wanted to drive growth by collaborating with a customer, acquiring a business overseas or diversifying their product range to reach different markets. The report found that SMEs in Brazil, Russia, India, China or Mexico were more likely to see their business in international terms. The challenges they – and every internationally-minded SME – faced were pretty similar: lack of knowledge, customs duties and contacts. The fact that companies in developing economies seem to be overcoming these obstacles should be a wake-up call for the British wide-format printing industry.