10 Questions to Ask if You Plan to Export

Alpana Sharma February 2, 2019

Considering business growth options in 2019? You can boost your business through exports. If you are selling just to the domestic market, you are limiting your growth potential.
In 2016, BC’s small businesses were the source of “43 per cent of the province’s total exports and shipped almost $18.0 billion worth of merchandise from the province
For businesses new to exporting, it can seem overwhelming initially. Before you move into overseas markets, you need to prepare well.
Start by asking these ten key questions.

1. What are your goals for entering the international market?

Just ‘exporting products/services” is not a productive goal. Create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals. Developing specific goals will help in deciding the best market entry strategy.

2. How committed are you to making exports your key goal for business growth?

Lack of commitments is one of the key reasons for failure. Exporting will involve new challenges including travel, learning new skills, setting up new business processes etc. You must be committed to stay the course.

3. Do you have a plan in place?

Moving to a new market can be rewarding –but nothing works without a plan. Doing it right will help you navigate international trade with more confidence. Some of the important elements to consider in your export plan are

  • product adaptation
  • logistics
  • documentation and government regulations in the target market
  • copyright and trademarks
  • exchange rates and payment processes

4. Have you picked the best new market for your expansion?

Targeting the right international market for your goods/services requires research. The good news is you can find a lot of information on countries and various business sectors online. You can find valuable data on several websites including Export Development Canada and the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). Participating in a trade mission can also get you a hands-on experience of international trade.

5. Do you have sufficient resources in your company to support your international expansion?

You need to assess the financial capacity of your business to support exporting. Identify the team members best suited to support and execute a foreign expansion project and get them on board with your plan.

6. What is your market entry strategy?

Each country has its own set of regulations and unique market situations. How do you plan to enter your target market? Export directly? Form a partnership with a local company in your target market? There are several options for selling to an overseas market. (Note: my next blog will discuss agents and distributors )

7. Have you researched the regulatory requirements in your target market?

Exporting is always regulated. Do you know if your target international market has any tariffs or quotas that can be a barrier to your market entry? Canada’s trade agreements facilitate easy flow of goods and services globally. Find out if your business can benefit from it.

8. How do you plan to get your goods to the target market?

You’ll need to consider important logistic factors such as packing, labelling, preparation of shipping documents, Incoterms, transportation, insurance, and custom brokers. Consider engaging freight forwarders who can professionally get your goods to the target market.

9. Have you researched the business culture of your target market?

Business is conducted differently in different markets. Local customs, language, community dynamics, educational standards are some of the factors that will influence your product adaptation and marketing strategies.

10. Do you have an exit plan in place if things don’t work out?

You may enter into an international business partnership to gain access to the local market. If the partnership does not work or if you want to withdraw from the overseas market, ensure you have an exit strategy.
Take this export quiz to assess your export readiness! The Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting guide is a great resource to make your business export ready.

About Alpana Sharma

Alpana Sharma is a Business Advisor with WeBC, and is based in our Vancouver office. She is a Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) professional and supports clients who plan to export or import and grow their business internationally. Email her your international trade questions at inquiry@womensenterprise.ca

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