This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but subjects which will apply to most companies that are on the export journey.
Firstly, some specific actions:
1. Protect your Trade Mark and have an Intellectual Property strategy.
Progressively we are seeing IP and TMs as the most valuable asset for an exporter. More and more exports can be delivered at the touch of a button – content, design, recipes, processes etc., and the route to markets could well be license & franchise. IP is at the heart of this form of export and if your IP is not protected you open yourself to abuse which will mean missing out of revenue and control of your brand. The Intellectual Property Office is a great place to start. And do speak to your lawyer about how to protect your IP and TM before you start exporting to a new market. And ask whether your IP and TM are protected in markets you are already exporting to.
2. Set your website up properly for worldwide use.
You probably already have a lot of worldwide internet traffic, check your analytics. You might just be surprised by what you find out about your global audience. This should be part of the process of defining your export strategy. Is your website set in terms of search and language for the parts of the world you are targeting and the parts of the world already looking at your website? Is your website sympathetic to cultural & religious differences in different parts of the world. Are pictures/illustrations appropriate and relevant?
3. Supply origin and impact; think of export controls, not always obvious, think of end-user.
4. PESTLE (and other) analysis.
PESTLE stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors. As discussed above under websites. Conduct this sort of analysis for every aspect of your business which is exposed during the export journey. Particularly local laws, regulation, culture and local practices. There are other forms of analysis you can do yourself, which cost nothing, just a bit of time and always benefits from several members of your team getting involved. SWOT analysis is probably the most well-known, and it is as relevant now as ever. Look up and make use of other forms of analysis.
Your accounts, credit rating, directors and so on; check the same for your customers and in-country partners. And do so regularly. Obviously respect confidentiality, but be prepared to be open, have nothing to hide. Be honest.
Finally we will look at general points to think about.
- Sadly, “there is no magic wand” when it comes to exporting.
- And as mentioned in an earlier session, it always costs more than you think it should and it always takes longer than it should.
- It’s fine to start slowly. Patience is a great virtue. Take your time when entering in a new market. Stop, look and listen. Rushing in can cause mistakes and cost a lot of money. Get it right then build momentum.
- Don’t make assumptions. True for exports and for everything else. But particularly new export markets. Things are rarely quite as you would expect them to be. Just because something is such at home or in an established market doesn’t mean it applies everywhere. Even neighbouring countries can be very, very different.
- Be clear on what your objectives are. You can of course change objectives, update them, react to opportunities and challenges, but all the way be clear to yourself about what you are trying to do.
- Continually evolve your plan, your offering, your outlook. Things rarely stay the same anywhere these days, move with the times, with your customers’ demands and with those things that are beyond your control, such as Covid. That changed the way we all did everything, but we have to keep doing.
- Stay in touch with your local advisers, your international trade adviser, Innovation & Growth Specialists, Local Enterprise Partnerships, local council etc.
Every company is unique, as is its offering particularly on the world stage, and everyone is at different stages of the export journey, so our last comment is to keep updating your plan, keep it fresh, keep talking to your international trade adviser and keep your eyes and ears open for changes and opportunities.
How we can help, our export support
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Last year, we assisted more than 10,000 clients across London and the South East of England secure £2.5bn in additional sales overseas.
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