10 key steps to export success

John Rubidge
Head of Innovation in Services | Department for International Trade - South West
18th August 2014

Research shows that businesses who export have significantly greater growth prospects, more durability and higher profitability than companies who don’t. And if you needed more encouragement than that, consider the fact that exporting businesses generate an average growth of 30% after exporting for just two years - a serious reason to consider trading overseas.

There's no better time to get started in export, here’s my top ten tips to help get you on your way.

1. Review your export potential

Whether big or small exporting offers increased sales, as well as domestic and global competitiveness. Exporting also reduces your reliance on the British market, thus making you less vulnerable to economic fluctuations. You know that you are ready to export if you have already demonstrated efficient communication and good relations with your current customers, as well as the capacity to handle the extra demand that comes with exporting.

2. Develop an action plan

Look at who your customers are already, will you find a similar demographic overseas? What climatic or geographic factors affect the use of your product or service? Are modifications required to make your product appeal to foreign customers? Find available grants and financing to make your business export ready, and build a proposition for each of your target markets.

3. Research and prepare to visit a market

Gov.uk exporting guides are a great way to start researching your prospective markets, and they offer detailed legal advice. Pay attention to the news for disruptions and cultural events affecting your chosen market. Look online for real life case studies and export successes, and research potential overseas competitors. Allocate your resources carefully to make the most of your visit.

4. Explore routes to market entry

Firstly, develop your intercultural awareness and locate your proposition appropriately to your target audience. Use UKTI officials and British Embassies within the country to find safe and reliable partners, and use your contacts to grow awareness of your business. Get involved in International Business Network Clusters to find helpful business export connections at home. 

5. Find out about selling and marketing your products overseas

Look at the differences between domestic and export marketing fundamentals, as both of your markets will have specific needs. Invest in digital opportunities and create a digital marketing plan. Monitor market activity with social media, and update your business plan accordingly. Construct a unified brand for your business which upholds your reputation around the world.

6. Think about cultural and linguistic challenges

It is important to recognise culturally sensitive areas such as religion, and create strategies for developing your team’s intercultural understanding to improve global relationships. Incorporate cultural differences into your business plan for a better chance of finding overseas business partners. Find reliable translators, but consider participating in language and culture workshops.

7. Prepare to manage finance, payment and risk

Set up a letter of credit, to ensure that you get paid for your exports. Learn how to manage foreign financial transactions and research trade taxation; adjust your product/service pricing to consider these. A balanced evaluation is important, so underpin your performance objectives and asses your partner’s capability.

8. Prepare to protect your intellectual property

Create contracts with partners in both languages if applicable, and use those contracts to manage product exclusivity. Investigate what protection can be put in place, and try Intellectual Property Rights workshops to further your understanding. Get familiar with the export laws of your target market so you can make your contracts sound.

9. Prepare to fulfil your orders and get your documentation right

Without the right documentation you will be unable to export, and incorrect documentation can waste time and money. Export documentation includes Certificates of Origin, EUR1’s, ATR’s, Letters of Credit and ATA Carnets. In addition, there may be country specific export taxes. To avoid incorrect documentation, get professional advice for yourself and any business partners you may have overseas.

10. Choose your distribution, shipping and delivery methods

Don’t just choose the shipping method best for your budget, but for your product. Consider using distribution and commission agents to help you navigate the various methods of delivery. It is important to understand the role of customs and export payments too in order to export successfully. 

Take your business to the next level and get exporting.

International trade is not as difficult as it may seem. There are real opportunities for your business to trade internationally as UK products, services and expertise are in great demand across the world.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can help you in your journey, please contact out friendly international trade team on 01275 370 944

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