Thinking of exporting overseas? Here are 5 questions you should be asking » SMEInsider

Thinking of exporting overseas? Here are 5 questions you should be asking

Delivering goods to clients in other countries is a whole different ball game to dealing with domestic orders. Here are some of the most important considerations that you will need to tackle before you start.

1. Are you ready for this?

If you’re just starting out, the chances are that gaining traction at home will bring you more success and money – and far less stress – than trying to conquer the world from the word go. Given the travel, admin and patience involved in exporting overseas, it’s wise to ensure that you have the financial and human resources in place to project your core business at home before you start.

At the same time, exporting is always going to be a scary prospect and if you wait for the perfect moment you may be waiting forever. As with everything in business, the learning only really begins once you’ve begun.

2 Are you pitching it right?

Bear in mind that you’ll need to pitch your product entirely differently in every new country, region or even city that you expand into. Research is absolutely crucial to understand where you might fit in – what captures the attention of a certain demographic in one country might well suit the tastes of an entirely different demographic in another. Two useful resources are the British Chamber of Commerce’s Export Britain site and the UKTI’s Overseas Market Introduction Service, which can help you find useful contacts and information. Just make sure that you have a good idea of what you’re looking for before you start.

3. Are you working with the right people?

No amount of research will ever be a substitute for great people on the ground that know the market and know their stuff. You may find that using an in-country agent can be a big help.

It’s also crucial that you visit a country for yourself, get a feel for how things work and meet people in person. Trade fairs and other industry events can be a good place to start, especially as you start to get a feel for the kind of people you should be partnering with.

Remember too that in many countries, doing business is as much about whom you know than what you sell, so get networking!

4. How will you handle payment?

Chasing a late or non-payment is going to be extremely difficult if the client is overseas. Do background checks on the company’s trading history and consider seeking references. It’s perfectly common to seek a partial or even full payment upfront when exporting large orders overseas.

It’s also important to alert your bank or financial advisors of your plans to export, especially as businesses that do so need to have robust credit control procedures in place. It’s usually best to handle payments in Sterling, especially if you’re dealing with a less stable currency!

5. How will you handle delivery?

There are a wealth of options available for logistics and transport in the UK. Make sure that your supplier has experience in warehousing, customs and legal requirements as well as the capacity to handle your specific needs and any complex or unusual arrangements.