You don’t need to be an expert to export, but you will need an exportable product, adequate start-up resources, sound domestic marketing methods, and a committed management.
Product Prerequisites: To have export potential, your product must be needed or wanted somewhere abroad and be able to match or exceed the appeal of competing products -- in meeting needs, in quality, price, service, etc. You may be more export competitive than you think. For example, if your product has sold reasonably well in the domestic market, the chances are it will also sell abroad. Why? Because, to do well domestically, you've already proven you can compete, not only against other domestic products, but imported products as well. The overseas playing field will be different, and you may need to adapt your product, pricing or payment terms somewhat to compete in specific markets.
Export Resources: As a start-up exporter, you'll need to have or acquire experienced staff, premises and equipment, as with any new business. Once established, you'll need funds for market research and development (finding distributors, market promotion, etc.). As export orders come in, you'll need available inventory or the ability to produce or acquire more product as needed. If your customers want delayed payment terms, you'll have to pay for financing.
Marketing Methods: Sound methodology is as critical in exporting as in domestic marketing. If you've been successful at home, the chances are that you base your decisions on market research and analysis, have a strong sales and distribution network, effectively promote your company and products, and give priority to customer service. Exporting requires the same sound methodology, but may also need to be adapted to fit a particular foreign market. Marketing and distribution practices vary by country, often dictated by law, custom or necessity. For example, some countries favor certain marketing or distribution methods over others, such as direct sales or use of local agents. Some have better promotional media and higher receptivity to promotion than others.
Management Commitment: A motivated management is the primary key to export success. If the will exists, ways can be found to make a product more salable; overcome or adjust to tight budgets; or try a better way to market a product. Exporting takes time and perseverance to pay off. Management must be willing to commit and see it through.
Prospective exporters rarely start with all the necessary attributes, but with reasonable effort and guidance, a company can begin to fill the gaps and reach a point where exporting becomes viable. The Export Readiness Assessment System (available from our home page) addresses these prerequisites, tells you how you rate in each area, and suggests steps and actions you can take to become more export ready.The Export Tutorials section of this website is also aimed at non-exporting companies thinking about exporting. It deals with the fundamentals of why one should export, how to get started, and where to go for help. In addition, you should consider taking the intuitive and interactive Export Readiness Assessment for a quick look at how well prepared you company is to enter new international markets.