Business Planning Services
Business Plan Outline
How to Become an
By Roger S. Cohen
Exporting your firm's products or
services can provide you a valuable opportunity for growth. It takes a
special approach, however, to successfully access foreign markets.
Let's look at several of the
basic steps in becoming an export business success:
- Research your market.
Learn about your competitors, their products and prices.
- Know the customers.
How can you customize your products to meet foreign customers' needs?
- Understand the concept of
Every market has different demands.
- Know the market's style
Some customers don't mind premium prices, as long as quality is also
- Learn the sales system and
master the distribution network.
Find the right sales and distribution channels. Be
careful about requests for "exclusive rights."
- Don't expect your foreign
customers to understand English.
Be ready to translate your packages, instructions, and manuals.
- Learn to write clear
Make messages, letters, faxes and emails clear, concise and accurate.
- Visit the market.
Learn first hand! See your products in use. Collect competitors'
- Visit prospects.
Urge your distributor or representative to set up three
or four appointments each day for you with prospective customers.
- Be responsive and
Answer questions promptly.
Offer prices and delivery terms you can meet.
- Provide for local service.
Fix or replace products. Foreign customers don't want a
- Arrange for export
You'll have new needs for working capital, letters of
credit, wire transfers and currency exchange. You might want to utilize
the US SBA's Guaranteed Export Working Capital Loan Program or the
Ex-Im Bank's guaranteed loan program, and
arrange for foreign receivables insurance.
- Obtain receivables
Assure that you are paid by your overseas customers, without the need
for a letter of credit.
- Discuss the business with a
reputable freight forwarder.
You'll need assistance with shipping.
- Don't try too much at the
Start with a bit of your product line, in a well-defined geographic
If you master each one of these
steps, you'll be ahead of the game, and have a better chance to be