Basics of Exporting
At the best of times exporting can be a complex and challenging process. Yet, when it is approached with careful deliberation, exporting offers you opportunities for growth, increased sales and diversified markets. A marketable product or service is only the beginning. Exporting takes time and effort. It also takes resources and a strong commitment to compete beyond your current borders.
A recent analysis by the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team shows some important common characteristics in the export strategy of some of Barbados’ leading export companies:
- They actively sought export opportunities as opposed to depending on other sources to point them out;
- They never considered themselves to be too small to seize opportunities;
- They made use of a number of options to strengthen their businesses which ranged from entering their firms into competitions, which gave them access to additional capital to accessing the more user-friendly local business support funds and schemes;
- They utilised a range of options to gain market intelligence on potential markets, including participating in trade missions and conducting on-the-ground investigations.
- They were not afraid to approach government officials or other business support agencies in the export market to determine how they could best enter the markets and they further used such interfaces to engage in aggressive marketing;
- They were persistent – they were not deterred by initial negative responses to their attempts to enter export markets;
- They were not wedded to one particular type of market entry – if they could not export directly, then they considered using other vehicles to trade such as joint ventures;
- They made it their business to understand the rudiments of trade as they pertain to their particular operations;
- They voluntarily committed themselves to ensuring that their operations complied with internationally recognised standards; and
- Above all, they had a hunger to succeed.
For companies that have made exporting part of their long-term growth strategy, they are familiar with some of the ups and downs for manufacturers just starting to export: concern about the language and cultural differences, not knowing where to start or how to make inroads into new markets, fear that foreign consumers would not pay once the products leave the country.
Breaking into a new export territory requires:
- Long-term commitment
- Relationship development (distributors, local government, joint venture partners)
- Patience (government, culture, use of realistic time frames and budgets)
- A strong domestic client base to leverage (especially if internationally recognised)
- Uniqueness of product and intellectual property protection
- Strong reputation/confidence in one’s own ability
- Prior international experience or the ability to recruit experienced people
- In market presence – closeness to customers
- Good interpersonal skills of staff/cultural understanding