Exporting is a great route to growth for businesses across the spectrum. New markets mean new customers but, as with anything, there is a process you have to go through in order to make the most of the international opportunity. While many businesses have the capacity for international growth, you will always have to take into account the new costs and requirements that exporting creates.
Mike Josypenko, from the Institute of Export, has been involved in international trade for decades and told us about how important it is for businesses to plan their strategy for dealing with these new requirements.
“It’s important to go in with your eyes open when selecting overseas markets so perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis at the outset to look at the various factors which will affect your decision,” he told us. “You may have a demand in principle for your product but that could be undermined by a number of factors.”
These factors include transport costs, import duties, compatibility with local markets, regulatory issues among many others. Before exporting you’ll also need consider whether there is international demand for your product, if you have the appropriate resource in staff and supplies to expand, and consider how you’ll reach new customers in this new market.
Exporting requires a lot of research and self-evaluation but there are many support organisations out there who can help you. UK Trade & Investment is the government’s support body for businesses looking to export and their international trade advisers (ITAs) can give you face-to-face support and help to generate international leads. There are bilateral chambers of commerce in most countries around the world who will offer country-specific support and trade associations will be able to give sector-specific advice. HMRC, Enterprise Europe and the Intellectual Property Office will all be able to help as well, while UK Export Finance can help you to cover the financial burden of exporting.
The Institute of Export and Open to Export both provide education and information for companies looking to start selling overseas - the former through its accredited teaching and membership and the latter through its free content, webinars and planning tools. Indeed, Open to Export recently hosted a webinar on ‘Planning for Export Success’ to help businesses make the most of the support out there to start planning properly for export.
Open to Export’s Action Plan tool is also an excellent means for planning – you simply answer questions in an easy-to-use interface in order to generate a report which can then shape and inform your export discussions and strategy going forward.
All in all, the support is out there, so make sure to use it properly in order give yourself the greatest opportunity to succeed overseas.