Selling internationally has many nuances that need to be addressed. As an exporter for the past 17 years I can tell you there are just so many details involved to ensure the decision to export is profitable.
Luckily, we do have NAFTA so that will reduce the amount of red tape you will have to overcome. However, the real opportunity for you internationally is 'how' you approach business partners that can make the difference between selling a few units or container loads of product.
The government/local business development centers offer guidance that can lead you in the right direction but dont expect them to conduct business for you.
Here are some ways that can help you achieve success in exporting:
- Define your goals and objectives, and focus on them. Make a
deliberate commitment that would otherwise give you confidence to
compete internationally, and transcend national borders. Keep in mind
that exporting is an activity that takes time and energy, and if you
have no long term and short term goals, you are bound to fail. Ideally
speaking, your long term goals would be the ones which you wish to
achieve a year from now, or most probably in future. On the other hand,
your short term goals would be the ones which you wish to fulfill in 5
to 10 days or within the period of one month. You as an exporter need
to carefully identify your priorities.
- Do a SWOT Analysis. The acronym SWOT expands to Strengths,
Weakness, Opportunities and Threats, which are helpful in determining
the strong and the weak points in your export strategy. Moreover, as a
successful exporter, doing meticulous SWOT analysis is also
instrumental when indicating the future opportunities or threats
perceptible in the markets chosen, and what strategy should be
formulated in dicey market conditions.
- Develop an Export Plan. A well researched and a detailed export
plan is the secret to exporting success. A structured export plan would
be your guiding light, when you make the move towards exploring foreign
markets. An export plan would ideally help you to act effectively,
rather than reacting to the international market challenges and risks.
A well structured export plan would comprise: Company’s Description,
the target market and its industry; analysis of the target market and
its industry; Individual Business Objectives of your company; financial
requirements and forecasts; SWOT Analysis of the competitive market and
in contrast to your own etc. A workable export strategy planned by you
would also help you in aligning support from financial institutions,
freight forwarders, consultants, and various other strategic partners.
Furthermore, in order to achieve success as a legitimate exporter, you
need to think along the lines of customer profiling, sales and
distribution channels; financial requirements and forecasts; and many
other potential factors.
- Conduct Market Research. This would help you in taking a firm stand
while you make an export marketing decision based entirely on the
socio-economic, political and cultural factors. Moreover, market
research saves you time, money and energy. It provides you with a
holistic view about the export market you want to penetrate. There are
two types of market research, such as, Secondary market research and
Primary market research. Secondary market research would help you
collect information from various published resources such as books,
newspapers, market reports, studies, periodicals; and the Internet.
Secondary market research is a cost effective and readily available
means to refine your export information requirements. Primary market
research on the other hand aims to make a direct link with the industry
experts, customers, and other potential sources of information. Primary
market research involves one-to-one interviews and consultations. An
exporter should make an attempt to reach primary market, after he has
become familiar with the potential markets.
- How to enter the foreign market? Now that you have done plenty of
market research and developed a workable marketing strategy, it is
important to see how and what market strategies would work potentially
well for your target market. There are basically three go-to-market
strategies. These include Direct Exporting, Indirect Exporting and
Exporting through strategic partnerships. Under the direct exporting
method, there’s direct marketing and selling to the client. In the
Indirect exporting method, an agreement is done with an agent,
distributor or a trading house for the purpose of selling the products
in the target market. The third go-to-market strategy, it may be
feasible to forge strategic partnerships with other companies or
individuals that would harmonize your export business.
- How to get your product or service exported to the foreign market?
Exporting is a dynamic activity, and every market where you intend to
export, have different market regulations, which cover health, safety,
security, customs and duties, packaging and labeling. It is also
important that you establish an affable relationship with the freight
forwarding company and a customs broker. This would help overcome the
hurdles in compliance and shipping documentation.
- How to arrange the finances in exporting? Business returns are only
evident if you invest your time and money. Moreover, it is also
important to see that you have financial stability and secure cash
flow. Therefore, as a professional exporter you should develop your
financial plan so as to address the imminent cost requirements involved
in exporting. The plan should also address to the immediate as well as
long term budgetary needs.
- Search financing options for your Exporting Success. A good
exporter is the one who materializes a workable financial plan so as to
take care of the hidden costs involved in exporting. The plan would
include at least a two- to three-year cash budget that would cover
overhead expenses, as well as the capital budget. A capital budget is
the one that helps the exporter to rightly assess the cost-benefits of
the export objectives, and is also considered as an effective operating
plan to make precise assessment of the expenditures involved therein.
If you need additional help, you can always reach out to me.
Khanstellation Group, Inc.