Getting export ready
Exporting can be a great way to fast-track your business growth because it gives you access to lots of potential new customers. Exporting has lots of moving parts, though, so before you start exporting you need to consider a few things:
Do your homework
You need to pick a market that you can win. It needs to be large enough to support your product, have enough demand to validate your product and people need to have money to spend on your product. As a business owner, some logical markets will immediately spring to mind. Cut the list to 2-3 and then focus your research on these markets. Compare markets based on the research and make your decision. It also pays to look at the markets where other local businesses are exporting because the channels you need will already be in place.
Spend some time in your new market
You need to be there. It really makes all the difference. This could be a series of trips or you can move there for a few months. Working hard, understanding the market and meeting potential customers will give you an invaluable firsthand understanding of what you need to succeed. Once you put a country manager in place, your experience in the market will give you better understanding of how to manage and support this person.
Create milestones and commit to achieving them
Confirm your key milestones and goals for your new export market. What does short term (6 months) success look like? Set aside the funds and go for it. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, too. Hiring your first person, growing the team and building the business is going to take time, effort and cash.
Exporting into new bigger market can bring a scale you may not have experienced before. Since it takes time and money to establish an office, market your product and build up some momentum, your costs are going to rise before your revenues do. Before you start exporting, you need to establish what those costs are going to be and raise enough money to cover them before the money starts coming in. If you’re massively successful, you’re going to incur massive costs, so think forward to make sure you can get ahead of them.
Look after your domestic market
When you’re setting up an export market, you’re going to be busy and distracted. Make sure you don’t neglect your domestic market; consider hiring someone to keep an eye on it while you’re getting ready to export.
Know when to walk away
If you do not hit most of your milestones in your first six months and have spent all the funds you have put aside, don’t just keep plowing on. Be clinical about it. It’s a business decision. You can always scale back, reset, then invest again at a later time.
Exporting is great for business growth. It’s exciting but it does have some challenges. Everything is new. With determination, good planning and well thought through governance you’ll improve your chances of success.
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