Almost a third (29 per cent) of SMEs have said that they would rely solely on the English language for their website, marketing tools and other communications material if they began trading overseas, while 32 per cent believed that an English only website would ‘suffice’.
The study, carried out by Global Lingo, polled 1,067 owners of UK-based SMEs, currently only operating and trading in the UK.
When asked the reason believing that English only would suffice, 55 per cent said that they believed English to be the ‘international language of business’ and was therefore the only language needed for trading overseas; while 36 per cent also admitted that they wouldn’t want the ‘expense’ of translating their website and communications material into their target country’s language; whilst 26 per cent added that they would be ‘nervous’ about trading in a language that they weren’t familiar with, or couldn’t speak themselves.
Marketing director of Global Lingo, Richard Michie, said: “Time and time again we see SME businesses believe that in order to successfully expand their businesses overseas they can rely on English communication methods entirely, as they wrongly assume everyone else will be able to speak their mother tongue.
“This is simply not the case, particularly for those selling directly to consumers, and many could be missing out on a great deal of potential business by not taking the time to communicate effectively with their target audience. After all, would you feel confident purchasing a product or service that claimed to deliver in the UK, yet communicated entirely in Italian?”
It was found that of those surveyed, 59 per cent admitted that their main concern regarding trading overseas would be the ‘language barriers’, whilst 21 per cent confessed it would be the lack of local knowledge and business practices that they would ultimately face.