Jessica Collin - How to find the right export strategy for your business

Jessica Collin is the NWES Business Adviser in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass

Jessica Collin is the NWES Business Adviser in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

I was reminded last week, when working with one of my clients, that exporting for the first time can be a daunting prospect for a business.

Exporting has long been a popular expansion strategy, but where do you start if you have not exported before? Like most areas of business, a simple plan can be adopted to provide focus and increase chances of success. There is also quality help available.

Your approach to exporting should be similar to when you first set up your business and entered the UK market. Research is key. What works in the UK will not necessarily work in your potential new market. Your offer should be driven by research and an understanding of your potential market.

Identify your potential customers and understand what they want. Identify competitors and see what they are doing differently. How will you compete? Is there space for a new market entrant? Be prepared to make small changes to your product to succeed. Trying to replicate your UK offer exactly is among the most common mistakes made by new exporters.

The internet has made the world smaller, but 'real life' human contact is still the most effective means of communication. Wherever possible ensure you have a representative in your potential market. They will be able to seek out opportunities and identify risks far more efficiently than you would be able by email or phone.

While you are growing, ensure you don't forget your core business. This is a common problem in expanding businesses. It is fine to make a conscious decision to move away from that business, provided you have properly considered that decision. But you must make sure you don't simply neglect it.

There are, of course, new risks in exporting. For example, how will you deal with currency fluctuations? There are ways to minimise the risks and support is available throughout the process from NWES and specialists such as UKTI whom you should engage with even during the research stage. There is a wealth of information on exporting, and accessing the support available will help you identify the opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls.

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Jessica Collin is the NWES Business Adviser in Yarmouth.

Call: 0845 60 99 99 1


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