Top tips to start exporting

Exporters were amongst the winner’s from last week’s Budget announcement.

The government has said that it wants to see exports double to £1 trillion by 2020, and the Chancellor announced an expansion of existing support for exporters in an effort to kickstart the stuttering economy.

Exporting has long been a popular expansion strategy, but it can be a daunting thing to begin. We have compiled some top tips to help you explore new markets.

1. Do your research

Research is key to a successful export strategy. You need to know your potential market inside out. Identify your potential competitors. What are they doing differently? How will you compete? Is there space for a new market entrant?

2. One size doesn’t fit all

A shoehorn approach is amongst the most common mistakes made by new exporters. You must understand that what works in the UK will not necessarily work in your potential new market. Be prepared to make changes in order to succeed.

3. Understand the risks

Exporting has a range of potential risks, many of which you may not have encountered before. For example, how will you deal with currency fluctuations? Have you factored these into your financial forecasts? Are your cash reserves big enough to enable you to cope with an unexpected change in the exchange rate?

4. Human contact is best

The internet has made the world smaller, but ‘real life’ human contact is still the most effective means of communication. Wherever possible you should make sure that you have a representative in your potential market. They will be able to seek out opportunities and identify risks far more efficiently than you would be able by email or phone.

5. Remember culture

The HSBC ‘world’s local bank’ adverts might be irritating – but they make a good point. Cultural differences are often just as important a factor as price or product. You need to be sensitive to cultural factors when considering potential markets and when dealing with clients or partners.

6. Don’t forget your core business

This is a common problem in expanding businesses. While you are growing, make sure that you don’t forget your core business. It is fine to make a conscious decision to move away from that business, provided that you have properly considered that decision. But you must make sure that you don’t simply neglect it.

7. Don’t grow too fast

Finally, remember the importance of pacing yourself. Many expanding firms encounter problems when they overstretch. Take a deep breath and remember that your chances of success will be significantly improved if you avoid rushing.

Where can I get more information?

It is vital that you have the right information before you start exporting. Entering a new market is a big step, and you need to ensure that you are armed with all the facts.

There is a wealth of information on exporting available from BusinessLink online. But you might also consider contacting one of the UK’s several exporting consultancies. These firms should be able to help you identify the opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls before you begin.

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