mBox Blog

With Australia being a smaller market due to our relatively low population, exporting your product overseas can provide a good way to expand your business. This may particularly be the case if you have a mature product with a strong domestic market, but limited scope for further expansion locally.

If you’re considering exporting overseas, here is a brief guide to getting started, and some key considerations and questions to ask.

Why export?

The first question you need to ask yourself is why you want to export. Exporting might be a viable option if you have a product that is strong in the domestic market, but you need more places to market it, or if you want to diversify your market.

Do you have what it takes to be an exporter?

Before you consider where and how you will export, you need to look at whether you really have what it takes. This includes the following:

  • A differentiated product and a unique selling proposition that won’t have a lot of competition in new markets.
  • The capacity to produce the required quantities, to meet demand and to deliver on time.
  • A professional-looking website that is optimised for search engines and that has good e-commerce functions.
  • Commitment – a strong desire and commitment to investing in new markets long-term is required.

Consider the where

Create a list of possible countries to export to, and then develop a set of criteria so you can make a shortlist. Considerations include:

  • Proximity – the closer the country the better in terms of costs (e.g. shipping, travel, transport).
  • Demand – how in-demand is your product in the countries you are considering? This will require some involved market research.
  • Language and cultural barriers – do you have the skills and resources to overcome these?
  • Foreign regulations – for example around customs, quarantine, product labelling and other issues.

You also need to consider how you will export. Do you have:

  • The skills – including export knowledge and the right personnel on board?
  • The financial resources? Entering into export markets costs money in terms of research, travel and accommodation and other expenses.
  • A method of selling? For example, through a distributor in the export country, your own foreign office, or a joint venture / partnership.

Planning is key

If you do decide that exporting is how you want to expand your business, you’ll need to tackle the following:

  • Develop a comprehensive export plan that can be readily integrated with your overall business plan and its goals and objectives.
  • Create scenarios that will enable you to test how well you will be able to manage exporting.
  • Ensure that your local markets will not be neglected as a result of this new venture due to too many resources being redirected. Make sure you can maintain a good balance in your marketing and sales.
  • Get help from the experts – such as a successful exporter who has experience in the countries you are considering.

The need for good communication tools

Getting started in exporting is also going to require a considerable amount of communication with people overseas. With the benefits of modern technology, a lot of communication with other countries can be done online through email and Skype. Sending documentation is also easier than ever with fax to email services, which can save time and money compared to a traditional fax machine.

If you would like more information, some good resources to assist you in getting started include the Australian Government’s Austrade site, the Small Business Commissioner (NSW), and Business Victoria.

Exporting is not for the faint-hearted, but with proper preparation, it can open up new markets for your products, and help you grow your business.

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