SOARing into new markets: 4 questions to ask yourself before exporting

WeBC March 22, 2022

Imagine this: you wake up tomorrow morning, brew a coffee and sit down at your laptop to find an email inquiry: “Do you ship to the US?”

Now what?

As a small business owner, deciding to expand your business by exporting your products or services can be daunting. However, the virtual world has made it easier than ever before to connect to new customers. When opportunity knocks you’ll want to have to toolset to answer!

Did you know that only 0.06% of the world’s population reside in BC? Choosing to export your goods or services beyond the domestic market is a great growth strategy that can dramatically boost your business.

So, how do you know if exporting is right for your business? You can start by answering the following questions:

1. STRENGTHS: What is unique about my business that I want to share with the world?

You started your business to fulfill a need. Meaning that, for a section of the market, you provide a solution to their problem.

What is your business’ unique selling proposition? In other words, what makes you different from your competitors? How can you use this to your advantage when looking to expand your products to new markets?

Look at your most popular products or services. Consider the size, volume, profitability, popularity etc. This will help you determine which of your offerings might be best suited for export.

Take, for example, a food processing company offering products with a 30-day shelf life and products with a year-long shelf life. They should look at exporting the products with the longer shelf life. This results in better quality control, and decreases the potential for products to expire before the customer receives it.

2. OPPORTUNITIES: Are there gaps in the market that I could fill?

Exporting doesn’t have to be limited to goods or services you’re currently offering. Perhaps you’re aspiring to develop new offerings that could be exported. You also don’t have to re-invent the wheel; you can always adapt or expand your current offerings to new customer segments.

Look at markets where your competition is minimal, allowing you to own the market share and be very successful.

Whether you’ve already done the brainstorming or not, this is a great exercise to do. Take some time to sit down and think about what communities and countries could benefit from your products and services.

Inspiration strikes where we least expect it; keep this top of mind when planning your next vacation or exploring a new destination. You might be surprised what you uncover.

3. ASPIRATIONS: What do I want my future business to look like? What do I want to achieve through exporting?

It’s important to consider what you want the future of your business to look like. What goals do you hope to achieve in the next 3, 5, and 10 years? If growing your business or increasing your sales are some of your goals, exporting is a great option to consider.

Expanding your local customer base and reach can be tough. You most likely have an established target audience for your goods or services, and it can be difficult to increase your clientele if you’re just looking locally. Exporting is a great way to grow your business exponentially and reach new customers that are in your target audience. It’s a win-win!

4. RESULTS: How will I know that I’m succeeding in exporting?

As a business owner, it’s important to set goals and key performance indicators (KPI’s). This data enables you to track progress and evaluate whether your efforts are contributing to your overall business success. This, of course, applies to you exporting plan as well.

For example, if you’re hoping to increase your sales by 20%, how many products/services do you need to sell? Do you have the capacity to create these products without sacrificing quality and current production? It’s important to be patient. Growth takes time, it’s not always easy to tap into new markets and it may take a while to see results.

By looking at what your business’ Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results might look like will help you determine if exporting is a good fit for you.

If you are interested in learning more to add or deepen your knowledge of the functional areas and skills required to run a successful business then check out our business training opportunities.

From marketing to Cash Flow Forecast, operations to exporting, our interactive workshops and online learning are packed with information and designed by industry experts so every session is time well spent.

About WeBC

WeBC is a not-for-profit that has been supporting women business owners across the province for over 25 years. Working with our regional partners, we’ve provided thousands of entrepreneurs with business loans and expertise, training, resources, and peer network support to help businesses grow and thrive.

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