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When you’ve made the decision to launch your business into exporting, preparing to export comes down to two things: knowing your business and knowing your market.

Knowing Your Business

Active ImageReview it: you can’t enter the export world without knowing your business’s capabilities and needs. A company review—looking at the performance over the last five years—can help determine whether you have what it takes. Things to evaluate in a company review include the company’s strengths and weaknesses, any key challenges faced and overcome, things which have improved or even damaged the business, and opportunities and threats the company has experienced, which might be increasing or decreasing.

Get staff on board: exporting requires long-term commitment and dedication from everyone involved. Ensure staff fully understand what the export process entails, what their role will be, and that they support your move into export.

Be realistic: make sure the company is fully capable of dealing with the extra workload that will be required. How will exporting affect your productivity; will you need more staff? You don’t want the domestic side of your business to suffer, so make sure the company is fully prepared for an increased demand on its resources.

Can you afford it?:
liaise with your bank and/or financial institution. Investigate the various international payment methods available and decide what’s going to be best for you.

Knowing Your Market

Choosing a market: selecting your market is one of the most important decisions you have to make in the export process. Austrade recommend creating a shortlist of three to five countries. They advise screening every country, so you don’t miss out on the best one for your business. Smaller countries can sometimes function as buying markets for larger ones, and can be easier to enter as larger companies often pass them over to focus on larger markets. Read as much economic and social information about each country that you can. State trade departments are a great source of information, as is Austrade. Libraries, industry and trade associations and other successful exporters are also good sources of information.

Will they let you in?:
you want to make sure you have no problems getting your product into your chosen market, so check out any applicable regulations and licensing issues. Contact the Australian Customs Service or an international freight forwarder to see if any legal requirements will apply to your product.

Get the lingo down:
there’s a whole language involved in exporting. The most common terms and abbreviations have been dubbed ‘incoterms’ and apply all over the world. A good place to start is the Export Planning Guide available from the Business Victoria website (www.export.vic.gov.au ), which includes a rundown of some of the most frequently used incoterms and what they mean.

Plan it out:
once you’ve chosen a country, make a preliminary export plan setting out specific objectives to be achieved within your chosen market. State departments and other export bodies can again be helpful in creating an export plan.

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