Business owner developing exporting strategy
Preparing to export

A beginner's guide to building an export strategy

Pulling together a comprehensive trade export strategy starts with considering two key questions: ‘Is exporting right for my business?’ and ‘Where should I export to?’ This guide walks through how to answer these questions in more detail.

Is exporting right for my business?

In simple terms, you first need to understand where your business is at and where your product is in terms of its lifecycle. For example, is it a mature product in the local market and you need to look for new countries to sell it in? Or is it an innovative product you need to get out across the world as soon as possible? 

It may be that there are increasing risk factors in your local market, such as currency devaluation, and you don’t want to keep all of your ‘eggs in one basket’. If you believe it’s an appropriate time to seek global exposure for your business, export strategy formulation may be the best next step.

Where should I export to?

This is a big question as there are over 190 countries in the world with numerous trading blocs and trading agreements. But before you get into the nitty gritty of a detailed export strategy, let’s look at how to approach this question.

Firstly, start with your own market: which have similarities to your own country and are trade-friendly with your own country? Make a list and then do some research to see if there are trade agreements in place or a strong trading history between countries.

Creating an export strategy framework

Now you have a list of feasible countries, the next step is to understand what you need to know about these international markets.

To do this, you need to develop a framework on how to research these ‘new markets’.

To create a framework:

1. Look at your own business first and think about what skills you have in your own company that might be relevant, such as language or sales skills.

2. Draw up a small graph and place all of the variants at the top of each column you would need to look at in each country you are considering. 

Are you preparing to export?

Whether you are an experienced exporter or exploring export opportunities for the first time, it's critical to understand what is required and to stay up to date. Our friendly team can guide you through the process of obtaining the right export documents you require to ensure smooth customs clearance and facilitate duty exemptions.

These variants might include language, travel time, suitability of product, the type pf promotion required and variations on products required for the new country. 

3. Use a numbering system against each variant with a difficulty level for each country, and at the end of the exercise, simply add up the numbers to get a mark for each country. 

Don’t forget to look back at your own skillset and see if they match up well with some of the potential new markets. At the end of this, you will have a number allocated to each country providing an indication of the level of difficulty that might be required for market entry.

Researching export markets

When it comes to more in-depth research, focus on factors such:

  • national population
  • regulations
  • how these countries operate
  • what competitors are there
  • whether you can compete effectively.

Also, consider how people market themselves in these countries and whether your marketing strategy will need to be realigned to suit cultural factors.

From there, consider talking to an expert in the market you are seriously considering entering. People who have local market knowledge and experience can assist in establishing cost-effective and export strategy plans and set you up with trusted partners already in those markets.

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