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  • Jim Fanshawe

Top tips to consider before you decide to export

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

Exporting can introduce a wealth of new opportunities for businesses and help them grow successfully. But understandably, choosing to trade overseas comes with challenges that don’t arise within domestic markets.

Start with your eyes open

Before you jump straight into a foreign market, it’s important to ask yourself a number of questions: (These are a few of the things you will need to consider – there are others and we can help you with all of them!)

Will you need to adapt your product offer to suit overseas markets? Are there any regulatory requirements you need to take into account? How will you select the most suitable markets to begin your journey? What effect will different languages and cultures have on your ways of working? Will you be able to find customers directly or need to use agents or distributors?How important will it be to have ready availability of stock to satisfy demand? Will you need to have men on the ground to provide after sales service? Will you need to change your promotion planning? How will you protect your intellectual property?And finally, how will you get paid?

Top ten tips

We are experts on exporting so not only can we help you answer these questions, we can help you get started on the next stage of your business journey. We can even implement and manage the full export development process for you.

Here are our top ten tips for newbie exporters.

Start with what you know

Your home market can act as a good research base. If you’re selling to a certain type of customer in the UK, is that same type of customer global? What do they like about your product or service? Why do they need it and does this need exist outside the UK?

You should then look at what cultural, sector, climatic or geographic factors might affect the use of your product or service abroad. Are modifications required to make your product appeal to foreign customers?

Find your USP – Portray the right message for each export market

The reason someone buys your product in the UK could be different to the driver for buying your product in Poland or Brazil or China. Make sure you understand the true appeal of your product in each chosen market and play to those strengths.

In many markets there can be a lot of mileage in “Made in Britain”. A product or service that is from Britain has a perception of quality and trust across the globe (this is particularly true in manufacturing). So, ensure that your marketing plan fully leverages this aspect.

Additionally, if your product or service is new, special or unique, then use this USP to promote yourself further with the message – “we can provide something you can’t get anywhere else”.


It sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many people fail to research prospective markets and make assumptions. Preliminary research means spending long hours at your desk or online. Look for online databases, market research, identify your competitors or companies similar to yours in the market you’re considering and look for feedback from their existing customer base. Pay attention to the news for disruptions and cultural events affecting your chosen market. Look online for real life case studies and export successes, and research potential overseas competitors. You should also make sure you visit – more than once!

Don’t get lost in translation

In America, making a circle with your hand is the recognised symbol for “ok”. But that same gesture is symbolic for money in Japan and in France, it conveys the notion of worthlessness. So how can you avoid your message getting lost in translation, especially in the world of international business?

Try to create strategies for developing your team’s intercultural understanding to improve global relationships and incorporate cultural differences into your business plan for a better chance of finding overseas business partners.

Prepare to protect your intellectual property

Create contracts with partners in both languages if applicable, and use those contracts to manage product exclusivity. Investigate what protection can be put in place and get familiar with the export laws of your target market so you can make your contracts sound.

Get your documentation right

Without the right documentation, you will be unable to export, and incorrect documentation can waste time and money. Export documentation includes Certificates of Origin, EUR1’s, ATR’s, Letters of Credit and ATA Carnets. In addition, there may be country specific export taxes. To avoid incorrect documentation, get professional advice.

It’s not difficult, just different

Exporting isn’t as hard as you might think, it’s simply a process you haven’t been through before. Don’t be deterred by new policies and paperwork, once you’re over that first hurdle you’ll learn that export, in each new market or country, requires similar steps.

Don’t overlook Europe

Yes, we are facing a lot of uncertainty right now with Brexit looming. But regardless, it’s often easier to export to Europe and it can be a good first step to trading overseas, not least because it’s closer to UK culturally and geographically.

Europe can be a great starting point when considering your first international opportunity.

Embrace opportunity

Exporting can introduce you to different ways of working which can have enormous benefits to so many aspects of your business. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to visit other countries.

Use the expertise of others

This one is important. Speaking to an experienced exporter can help to clarify the export process. Here at Your Export Department, we can advise you how to kick-start your journey, what research you should do and help you to do it, recommend trusted contacts, and even help to allay your fears and build your confidence.

Don’t be put off

While exporting clearly presents challenges, it also presents great opportunities.

Choose the right markets and the rewards can be big.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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