Exporting is not easy. If you are trying to sell something
to someone who may not speak your language, who has a different culture to
yours and that is located thousands of kilometres away from you in another
country. After all, it's difficult enough trying to sell something to someone
around the corner. If you are struggling to make it in the local market, you
should know that it will not be any easier in international markets.
These are some of the questions you need to answer:
Is your firm successful?
This is broad judgement based on your gut feel. You are
suggesting that your firm is growing, is profitable and is cash-flush. You are
able to compete against your best competitors and you have a unique product
range that you sell nationally. Your firm also has areas of excellence that
sets your firm aside from its competitors (e.g. excellent customer services,
excellent product quality, innovative products, good administration, etc.)
Are your sales growing?
If you look at your sales over the past three years, have
they been growing? Is this growth better than that of your competitors? Is this
growth likely to continue?
Is your firm profitable?
Do you make profits? Have you do an extensive costing
exercise to identify all of your costs. Are your profits in line with those of
Do you have a positive cash flow?
Do you regularly go into overdraft to pay for your
day-to-day operations, or are you able to pay your own way? Do you currently
have cash in the bank? Are most of your capital goods paid for?
Does your firm operate nationally?
Do you sell your goods throughout the country regularly or
in one or two regions only? If you are not selling nationally, why not? Do have
branches or representatives in other parts of the country that can sell and
service your products?
Does your product have unique features?
What makes your product stand out from the competition,
besides for price? Is the quality exceptional? Do you have an innovative
What are your firm's competitive advantages over the
What aspects of your firm make it different and unique, when
compared with the competition? Are you an innovative company? Are you an
extremely efficient company? Are you very good marketing company or is your
product processes extremely efficient?
Has your firm exhausted all of its opportunities within the
Are there unexplored opportunities still present in the home
Exporting to foreign markets requires a high level of
commitment for success. Aside from language and regulatory barriers, there are
simple logistical considerations, like time zones.
From dealing with new middlemen and partners to making sure
your labels are spelled correctly and meet foreign standards, expanding into a
foreign market requires a huge commitment.