Exporting, because of
its global nature, is often seen as being quite glamorous. Also, because of the
apparent size of the global market, some companies may think that entering
export markets must be very easy. For these and other reasons, many companies
turn to exports as a means of salvation from small and highly competitive local
markets. These are the worst reasons for exporting.
Exporting is a complex, time consuming and very difficult endeavour. It
should only be attempted by companies that have the resources to tackle these
foreign opportunities - exporting is unfortunately not for everyone.
Exporting is worth considering only if you:
- have a unique product.
- are an established, successful
- are already selling nationally
and need to expand your sales.
- are competing quite
successfully against imported products.
- are in a position to finance
your export endeavours for a period of 12 to 24 months without necessarily
generating any immediate income.
- already have good contacts in
your industry abroad who may be prepared to help you.
- have the necessary export
skills within your firm.
On the other hand, you should stay away from exporting if you:
- do not yet have a formal
business plan for your local market.
- are not yet selling your
- are struggling in the domestic
- are producing and selling a
very ordinary product.
- have limited finances and
You can be said to be export ready if you have:
- Obtained senior management’s absolute support for and
commitment to the firm’s export efforts
- An established product that is unique in one or more ways
and that is competitively priced
- Confidence that your suppliers will continue to supply you
with the raw materials and components that you need to meet export demand, even
if there are unexpected changes in the domestic and/or international
- The capacity to easily re-design your product to suit your
- The ability to adopt additional competitive features such as
using new materials, meeting international standards, integrating new
technologies, incorporating new packaging, etc.
- Spare production capacity so you can quickly fulfill a large
- Adopted consistent quality control in your production
process, which you can still adhere to even if you increase production to meet
- An established and profitable national market in your home
- An existing system for managing your expenses and income
- Adequate cash, savings, or access to capital to finance your
production and marketing efforts for a year or two
- Trained staff that have experience in export marketing and
- One or more foreign-speaking personnel with good customer
- The capacity to survive for at least two years without
making a large profit
- Attended export training yourself or solicited export advice
from appropriate experts in this field
- Attended export networking events (such as the Exporters’
Club) or conferences
- Developed a formal, documented export plan
- Already conducted some export marketing research on which to
base your forward thinking
- Considered how you will address the various export risks
that you will face.