If you are considering expanding your business model to include exporting products or services internationally, there are a multitude of major and minor issues to take into account.
Not every company is ready to enter the field of international trade. Generally speaking, however, there are some commonalities among companies who prosper in the export field. Consider just a few.
1) Export-ready companies typically have a strong domestic business base.
For the most part, a proven track record domestically is a good indication of solid management and a viable business model. If you are successful domestically, you typically stand a much better chance of making a go of international trade as well.
Conversely, if your company is struggling to maintain a good position in the domestic marketplace, it may be wise to focus more fully on strengthening your domestic position before venturing out into international markets.
2) Export-ready companies have strong leadership from management willing to make a long-term investment in international market development.
Business success flows from the top down. Hence, a strong commitment by top management is essential for the success of any exporting plan. Developing a viable exporting strategy is not done overnight. Management must be willing to commit to a long-term strategy of international market development. Realistically, this development may continue for several years.
3) Export-ready companies are willing and able to allocate significant resources to plan development.
Such resources include both monetary investment and investment in personnel to handle export matters appropriately. Questions that a company must be able to answer in the affirmative include:
- Are sufficient funds available to develop international markets?
- Is the company financially able to handle production increases?
- Are key personnel willing and able to spend significant time abroad to smooth the process of exporting products or services?
- Are there employees who currently hold the necessary certifications to conduct business in foreign lands? If not, are they willing to acquire such certification?
4) Export-ready companies have a solid business plan in place to develop foreign markets.
One of the hallmarks of a solid exporting plan is a realistic time frame for development. Such a plan must take into consideration the organizations and processes that are part of the international business operating environment. It must contain a comprehensive understanding of regulatory processes in foreign lands, and be agile enough to accommodate the demands peculiar to international trade policy.
5) Export-ready companies have products or services of value to an international market.
This includes more than just the value inherent in your product or service. For instance, when a company ventures into exporting its products internationally, it often becomes apparent that some alterations in the product must be made to accommodate culturally diverse consumers.
Questions to consider in this regard are:
- Will your production facilities have to be certified by regulatory agencies in the foreign land to which you intend to export your products? If so, what is the procedure for such certification?
- Will the cost of your products or services be competitive with other offerings in the international marketplace?
- Will your product or product packaging need to be re-designed to meet foreign regulatory compliance standards and to be aesthetically desirable to an ethnically diverse population?
- Will you need to translate marketing materials and technical manuals for a foreign audience?
6) Export-ready companies have a strong understanding of trade regulations and compliance issues across multiple national and international jurisdictions.
Compliance with U.S. trade regulations as well as the import regulations of foreign lands are required of a company exporting goods. Complications can arise in the areas of intellectual property rights, national security, and social responsibility. An export-ready company ensures that all legal, ethical, and moral concerns are addressed by clearly stated and enforced company policy.
Export-ready companies take these factors, among many others, into consideration and have plans in place to meet the demands of a foreign marketplace. Due diligence, appropriate allocation of resources, and a management team dedicated to developing a solid business plan for expanding into a global marketplace will help give a company the tools it needs to become truly export-ready.