A whopping 97% of US export businesses are small firms! This would come as a shock to many small business owners, a shocking 73% of whom, are put off from reaching customers worldwide. This is because they are not aware of the digital resources that could help them overcome the challenges of high infrastructural and legal costs from inefficiencies in the export process.
Even if your business is successful in the homeland, expanding your business is important, so it can reach a bigger market that will increase your profits and lengthen your products’ life spans. If your line of business provides you with a scope to extend your reach and you haven’t, it is highly likely your competitor is willing or already has expanded their business which will place them in a more powerful position and eventually may become a threat to your future survival.
Fortunately, today’s small businesses have access to the internet, efficient logistics, and diversity of assistance programs from the Australian government as well as from other organizations. As a moderate to highly successful business owner, this is as good a time for you to look into the prospect of extending your reach to the foreign shores. Here are 7 ways you can do so:
1. Have an Expansion Plan in Mind for Your Firm
You have decided to expand your firm but have no idea where to start. You can’t conjure a concrete plan for the steps you will need to follow, where to look for them and how you can acquire them cost-effectively. The whole thing is starting to become more confusing and intimidating every day you stall.
Luckily, you can overcome this mental block without having to dive into huge export-related textbooks full of incomprehensible, industry-specific jargon. This is where learning the export process comes in handy, it teaches you the basic concepts of how you can come up with your own plan that is customized for your business’s unique requirements.
The whole procedure boils down to several steps that you can take a deeper look at to you build on your current knowledge. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!
Additionally, you will want to ensure that whatever product you are sending out remains intact and in good condition so you can get the maximum return from your investment. Be sure to take security measures like investing in sturdy cargo containers for your goods. Tiger containers are a great local option and provide you with affordably priced used and unused containers to keep your delicate shipment in good shape.
2. Hold In-depth Knowledge of Your Potential Export Destination(s)
So, you get the gist of exporting products overseas and now it’s time to start selling, isn’t it? Hold on! As any successful business owner would tell you, selling is just a component of the complex operations involved in running a business. You can’t just start selling to a new customer base which has a completely different culture and language without first trying to know them.
The key to customer retention is to connect with your audience. Hence, the next thing you should do when thinking of expanding your business abroad is to learn about your new destination, you want to export your products. This will give you insights on how to successfully communicate with, sell your products to, and satisfy your foreign customers so they will keep on coming back.
You should pay special attention mainly to two questions about your new export destinations to determine its suitability which includes:
- Which countries are leading importers and exporters for the category of products you sell?
- Which countries charge the lowest duties?
3. Save Assets to Support Export Operations
Expanding business operations whether locally or internationally, doesn’t come without costs. The costs involved here, to be exact, including time and money. A good candidate for the exporting business shows consistent growth and stability in both income and sales volume within its nation.
This is because businesses just starting to export, require more assets to fuel it since export products might have different needs such as changes for developing in-house procedures (for e.g. how items are packed or sales are processed). Therefore, these businesses need to save and separate the assets which are to be distributed for export from their main business use.
4. Concentrate Your Energies and Start Small
With all the potential gain in wealth that can happen in the event of successful expansion, it can be tempting to want to branch out into several areas deemed suitable. However, if not handled properly, it can lead to a disaster marked by product shortage/surplus or miscommunication. In simpler terms, the chances of something going wrong is higher.
Hence, it is best to start small by selecting one area and putting all your energies into making the endeavor a success. Dipping your toes into one foreign market will build experience and give you a basic understanding of how to apply this to other foreign markets.
For example, Minnesotan amateur exporters start by exporting to Canada first because of its nearness and the advantageous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) tariffs which helps them gain exporting knowledge with lower costs.
5. Boost Overall Export Proficiency of Your Workforce
The Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) credential provides its holders with a realistic understanding of the topics which constitute international trade such as supply chain management, international marketing, and trade finance.
Thus, by encouraging your employees to pursue this nationally-recognized professional degree you can ensure skilled manpower and promote the smooth running of business operations.
6. Build a Network of Experts
The exporting process is a series of complex steps, each consisting of its own intricacies (for e.g. international contracts, export licenses, letters of credit) that would be impossible for only one person to decode and guide you through. As a consequence, you will need to turn to several different people with expertise in different fields of export.
Depending on your needs, you will hire some internal ones while outsourcing certain jobs to external ones. This should lead you to create a network of experts to fall back to for support and guidance when you need it.
Fortunately, your area’s local District Export Council has consultants to offer advice to small and midsize firms. You can start by asking them about the nature of the business that will require professional help. At the least, you need the service of a banker, lawyer, and freight forwarder.
7. Seek Government Support
Another great resource for you to lean on is the Export Assistance Centres in Australia, this is available all across the country. There are also offices in many Australian Embassies as well as Consulates Overseas which consists of an international group of trade professionals. These organizations help Australian exporters to search for potential foreign business partners, aiding their exhibits during international trade shows and investigating market opportunities as well as ways to access new markets to benefit them.
No matter how meticulously planned and executed your strategies are, you will still face many hurdles along the road to success. You might need to redesign product packaging or completely change an entire distribution channel and sadly, all this process takes a lot of time, a minimum of two to three years before you start seeing success.
Moreover, many mistakes will be made and corrected. What matters is that you are taking steps for a positive change and also learning along the way. It is unreasonable to expect success in the first try. Therefore, it’s important to stand by your resolve and keep trying anyway. Good luck!