SMEs international growth: a portrait of Portugal (and Ship4you).

In 2017, 57% of national companies increased their turnover outside Portugal and 63% expected to continue to grow this year.

This is the conclusion of the InSight Observatory: a survey conducted by the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with E-Monitor, where Ship4You participated, and which arose from the need to analyze the growth and the internationalization capacity of Portuguese companies. According to the survey, this growth comes from investment by SMEs in international expansion by entering new markets and, consequently, raising turnover.

Managers have worked to create the conditions for this growth by, for example, upskilling human resources assigned to international activity (45% of respondents), enlarging teams (39%), optimising production processes to maintain the competitiveness of products and services (43%), and raising installed production capacity (34%).

Questioned as part of this survey on its international business, the CEO of Ship4you, Cristina Coelho, commented that, “If we don’t develop constantly, we can’t progress. Working with a cohesive and well-trained team is essential as well. That’s why HR is part of our future strategy, especially where it relates to training and foreign languages.”

"If we don’t develop constantly, we can’t progress. Working with a cohesive and well-trained team is essential as well” – Cristina Coelho, CEO of Ship4you

As 95% of the company’s turnover comes from activities performed outside Portugal, Cristina Coelho has no doubt that the company couldn’t survive without its international business.

Like Ship4You, many other Portuguese companies are looking for strategies to promote their businesses abroad and one of the most common methods of commercial promotion, customer acquisition and market prospecting is to participate in international fairs via chambers of commerce and trade fairs.

"The whole world is our market and the only thing you can rely on is that everything is constantly changing," says Fernando Costa, Business Development Manager at Weedswest, a company which operates in the construction, road paving, engineering, oil and gas sectors.

One of the main tasks of the Chamber of Commerce is to support the internationalization of Portuguese companies, but also to attract foreign investment into Portugal.

In an increasingly digital world, where barriers are fading and people are coming closer together, business and markets can also overcome obstacles. 54% of managers inquired consider the “ease of identifying and communicating with new customers via the Internet and digital platforms” as “very important” and 53% stated that the “ease of consulting information on markets via the Internet” was also crucial. For 83% of managers, the digital world ensures efficiency and speed, where the minimum commercial requirements are increasingly aggressive.

Through the Insight Observatory, we discover that “67% of respondents choose the invoicing currency to eliminate exchange rate risks and 59% demand advance payment/payment when ordering to safeguard against collection risks,” i.e. this expansion in trade is occurring in a manner in which there is relatively little financial risk.

These conclusions were drawn from an article by Imagens de Marca. You can read it all here.