When you sell domestically, all you have to worry about is a simple infrastructure and distribution system. When you start exporting, it’s an entirely different ballgame. Here’s how to conceptualize an export plan to completion, along with some helpful resources to get you going.
Write Down A Business Plan And Scout The Marketplace
Before you even think about breaking into a foreign market, think about the type of product you sell and whether it makes sense to sell it in your target market. Do some research on the Internet, connect with other companies who are exporting to that country, and try to get intel on what market conditions are like.
Write down a business plan – how will you sell in that foreign country?
Your business plan shouldn’t be that much different from the plan you made when you started domestic operations. The major difference will be in your plan for transportation (to get your goods into the country), the pricing model, and the sales and marketing systems.
Talk To Experts
Companies, like ISO Stainless, have been exporting for a long time now. They’re one of the few corporations that has earned both the E and E-Star Award for exporting. Talking with them, and others like them, can help you gain both an appreciation for what it takes to become successful and the practical knowledge to make it happen.
You should also consult with organizations like the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Commercial Service, and the U.S. Trade And Development Agency. All of these organizations can help you assess your readiness for exporting.
Not only that, some organizations, like the U.S. Commercial Service, have low-cost programs that will help you translate your marketing (and other) materials into the local language. They’ll also help you distribute your marketing materials, gather and organize your sales leads, and even facilitate the sale.
It’s almost like hiring a foreign marketing specialist
If you don’t have a lot of money, you can search the U.S. Trade and Development Agency’s database to get an idea about the firms out there that do consulting for import/export businesses. Some sources like Export.gov, are free and contain a wealth of information. You do have to sort through it yourself, however, but it’s there for the taking, which might be enough for you to get started.
If that’s not enough, here are more resources that will definitely get you up and running:
Export.gov – Information about exporting.
The U.S. Small Business Administration – A source for information about starting and running a small business, exporting, and trade.
The U.S. Commercial Service – A government organization that helps small businesses set up and run an exporting business, including securing leads and translating marketing materials so that you can approach foreign markets.
Export Business Planner – A tool that you can use to assess your export readiness, create a marketing plan, and pull together transportation details.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) – A database of fee-based consulting firms that help small businesses get started in importing and exporting.
Office Of The U.S. Trade Representative – A trade promotion arm of the International Trade Administration within the United States Department of Commerce.