EXPORT WEEK SPECIAL: More businesses need to export

As part of Export Week, which is running from Monday 10 - Friday 14 November, Northamptonshire Chamber asked John Harley, Managing Director of acs Office Solutions to write a guest blog about his experiences of exporting and why he feels it is important to explore international markets…

Acs Office Solutions had been selling its products and services into the commercial, public and third sectors for many years without ever considering looking beyond the UK market. An opportunity was then secured to equip an office in Uganda, for a US Company, with ‘regional’ offices in London. With the help of the Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce’s International Trade Team, we were able to navigate the export documentation requirements, and become a bona-fide exporter.

Since then, we have exported products and technical services to many parts of Europe, Middle East, and Australia and are planning to export to the US.The benefits this has brought to acs include a massive credibility factor for the business, with new opportunities to expand and maximise the range of products that we are able to deliver to our prospective and existing customers.

I am of the firm belief that more SME businesses should consider exporting, as most research confirms that those companies that embrace the global market through exporting are at least 11% more likely to survive.

What holds businesses back from this type of venture is the fear of the unknown, foreign laws, tax rules and regulations applied by other nations.

Our own experience is that help exists to overcome these challenges. Speak with your local Chamber of Commerce. The one here in Northamptonshire is exceptional in supporting you through the export documentation, for example.
Also, engage with your bank. You will likely be surprised how much expertise exists here, particularly when you consider just how much they transact globally.

My own experiences have led to me being invited to visit Downing Street as part of a delegation from the British Chambers of Commerce to speak with the Chancellor, George Osborne about the challenges and support required to successfully export.

I have also been appointed onto an International Advisory Council, along with some of the UK’s most distinguished business leaders.

It is the Council’s aim to help advise the Government in providing the continued and expanded support infrastructure to enable the UK to double its exports by 2020 - a very achievable goal, which would see our nation’s financial strength grow massively.

For my part, I will be championing at all levels, the vital part that SME companies are, and will be, playing in the exciting export markets, where ‘Made in Britain’ still holds massive value, and great rewards await those who embrace the opportunities.

acs Office Solutions, which is based on Brackmills in Northampton, is a provider of office furniture and interiors, IT products and services, IT support, audio/visual and data/voice cabling. For more information, visit

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