IN Scotland, less than 10% of businesses currently export. To move this country’s economy forward, we must build on that number by increasing our tourism income and our manufacturing exporting.

We should focus on developing new technologies and boosting our financial services sector.

Scotland is doing fantastically well in growing our international offering in food and drink, and this will continue. But other sectors should be getting on board the global train too – all businesses should be searching for international opportunities and turning them into successful ventures

This week, The IoD in Scotland and Scottish Business Network have been hosting a series of speakers from home and abroad, as well as detailed discussions on how to break this poor track record and change the mind-set of companies to go international from day one and to seek new markets - even if they have been in business for a while.

That’s why the IoD initiated its first International Week – to make boards and directors focus on the opportunities the external market brings.

From big corporate companies to start ups, the future is global, so it is important that we are setting that thinking in place from its founding to its stock market listing or sale. International week has already provided an opportunity to hear from businesses – large and small - which are already successfully trading abroad, and lessons are being learned about how best to build and use international networks and local partners; as well as the overriding message of “Just go for it!”.

Requesting advice and guidance from your contacts has been a key recommendation from the speakers, who have underlined the benefits of having access to a network of peers who can offer lessons they have learned, which is of course what the IoD strives to provide to its members.

It’s proving an excellent guide for businesses who are taking the first steps into international business, or indeed those who are already trading abroad, to learn from the experience of others and share knowledge with companies in the same position.

In boardrooms across the country, internationalisation must be on the agenda. For strategic growth, all businesses need to think global, because that’s where the market lies, and importantly, where the competition is.

Scotland is a small country at the geographical periphery of Europe and international trade is our lifeblood – our heritage and our future. We have to internationalise like never before to ensure that Brexit does not leave us marooned in the North Sea.

Scottish International Week is running until tomorrow at the IoD Headquarters in Edinburgh. If you’d like to attend, visit to view the agenda.

David Watt is the executive director of the IoD in Scotland.