Quiz: Is your business ready for exporting?

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1. Are you successful in the domestic market?

a) Yes. If your company is doing well in the domestic market, it makes sense to consider expansion overseas. However, you should seek professional financial advice as exporting can be costly and it may be a while before you see a return on your investment.

b) No. If you are not in a strong position domestically, the demands of exporting may be too much. Hiring new staff, adapting your products and visiting your target market all adds up and if you expand too quickly you could put your UK business operations at risk.

2. Does your business plan already have a budget for new markets included?

a) Yes. Good – you can use some of this allocation to explore your options.

b) No. You will need to allocate some resources to investigating possible new markets and then, if the signs are promising, to establishing sales in them. The internet is a good place to start, and should help you find markets that have cash to spend. Speak to any business contacts you have about positive and negative experiences they have had with new markets.

3. Do you have any ideas which potential markets might be receptive to your products or services?

a) Yes. Good – sounds like you’ve got a place to start.

b) No. Time to do your research then – you’ll find five key areas to research elsewhere in this issue.

4. Have you visited your target market?

a) Yes. Visiting your target market gives you a unique insight into how your business will fit in and what changes you may need to make. It’s also a great chance to make contacts who can help you navigate a new business landscape.

b) No. Visiting the countries you will be selling to is not essential; however, not doing so does add an element of risk. You won’t have as great an understanding of the market and any cultural differences. If a trip overseas is not an option, it may be that exporting is not the right path for you at the moment. If you still wish to pursue international opportunities, research your target market using the web. You can also try and make business connections with people working there using forums.

5. Have you adapted your product, packaging and marketing materials to your new audience?

a) Yes. By tailoring your offering to your target market you are giving it the best chance of being successful. Remember to check whether countries require bilingual labels and if the size or quantity of the product itself is appropriate. For example, food portions in Japan are much smaller than in the UK. 

b) No. By not adapting your packaging and marketing material you risk not only alienating new customers but you could be breaking your target market's laws. And it's not just language which can be an issue, other cultures may find certain images or colours more or less appealing than UK consumers. You should also mark weights and measurements according to local standard measures.

6. Have you reached out to any potential contacts in your new market?

a) Yes. Having a contact who can help you navigate your new market and advise you on local regulations and customs can prove very useful. If they can speak the language then even better!

b) No. It’s advisable to build up some contacts before you try breaking into a new market. Try linking up with people on business forums or attending trade events where you might meet good contacts.

7. Have you consulted a lawyer?

a) Yes. It’s important to do your own research too, but a lawyer will be able to advice you on the various legal challenges of exporting and help you avoid any fines.

b) No. The legalities of exporting can be a nightmare and it’s very risky to try and understand all of the licences, restrictions, taxes and different product standards that various countries have without seeking professional legal advice.

 

Mostly yeses

You seem to have a good understanding of what it takes to be a successful exporter. Remember you need to keep building contacts, and regular trips to your new markets could prove useful.

Some yeses, some nos

You may wish to do a bit more research before making the move into exporting. Why not seek some advice from experts? See our article on Support for Exporting Businesses for some good sources.

Mostly nos

You may wish to delay your export plans until you have a better understanding of the countries you wish to sell in. If you give exporting a go and it doesn’t work well, it may be harder to break into a market for the second time. 

 

How to

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How to stay on top of tax and customs
David Prosser

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