The purpose of an export plan is to assemble facts, constraints and goals, as well as setting out an schedule.

Export potential

Is your business ready to export?

Consider your company’s reasons for exporting:

  • Long-term expansion
  • Enhance competitiveness
  • Exploit unique technology and expertise
  • Improve return on investment

Assess whether your product is suitable for export:

  • Product standards and regulations
  • Costs of adapting and modifying your product for international sales
  • Export licence requirement

Market research

The second important component of an export plan is market research. Identifying and evaluating the target market will enable you to:

  • Understand the industry structure
  • Predict product demand
  • Identify competition
  • Determine product modifications needed

Research your industry sector in the export market, finding out the opportunities and growth areas, as well identifying any barriers. At this stage, it is also a good idea to create a basic customer profile for your product.

Export strategy

The next step is to develop an export strategy, defining how you will enter the foreign market and find trade leads. Decide whether you will be exporting indirectly through intermediaries – which will require finding overseas representation – or doing it yourself. The latter option means you’ll have to consider how to promote the products abroad and what type of after-sales support you will be able to provide.

Pricing and delivery

It is important to consider product pricing and quotes, methods of payment, shipping terms and costs in order to accurately calculate your expenses and budget for them accordingly.

Rules and regulations

Next, ensure that you understand and comply with the rules and regulations of international trade. Being aware of such rules will help you convert them from barriers into benefits.

Financing

Consider how you will finance your export plans, including calculations on your expenses such as salaries, travel, advertising, distribution, production, etc. State whether the daily operations will be funded from an outside source or internally. Include a projected sales forecast in your export plan – this will help you to measure success.

Implementation plan

The last step is to identify milestones or time frames for key tasks. This will help you to evaluate your progress and communicate expectations your staff. Your plan should include dates for major tasks and identify parties responsible for the tasks.

Ensure that employees and partners are able conduct their specific duties, employ people with relevant export qualifications and/or provide training to existing staff. The key personnel involved in the exporting process should also have involvement in building and agreeing the export plan, as they will help execute it.

At the outset your export plan will probably be quite simple and brief since some areas may require further research. However, the plan should become more detailed and complete as you and your team become more experienced.