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Tips to become an exporter

10 tips on becoming an exporter

Discover some top tips for exporting – and find out where to get expert advice.

1. Review your export potential

You should take the time to consider the realities of exporting, the implications for all aspects of your business and any assistance you may need. Start by downloading the export guide from the Exporting is GREAT website and search for global export opportunities.

2. Develop an action plan

Exporting is a process that needs to be planned. You'll need clear and focused objectives, and you should be realistic as to what you can achieve within a given timescale. UKTI, through its international trade teams, can help companies to develop a tailored action plan that sets out a workable strategy, and to conduct regular reviews to ensure it's on track.

3. Research and prepare to visit the market

Researching markets is essential to help reduce risk and improve your chances of success, remembering that each business and each market is unique. You'll find lots of useful information on exporting to countries across the world via GOV.UK.

UKTI's aim is to help you, through research and advice, make those initial approaches into new markets. UKTI offers a key research service: Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

Bespoke export training offered by UKTI also assists companies with professional approaches and techniques for market selection, taking into account questions such as:

  • How 'easy' is the market to break into?
  • What is the demand likely to be?
  • What criteria are important to you?
  • What are your objectives?
  • Ease of market access / potential demand consideration

Taking part in overseas events, trade fairs or missions is an effective way to do some field research to test markets, attract customers, appoint agents or distributors and make sales. UKTI helps groups of UK companies to attend tradeshows and missions worldwide. Visit UKTI's events website to search for events , or find out more about the Tradeshow Access Programme on GOV.UK.

You should consider reading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) country updates, and its assessments of business-relevant political and economic issues in key markets. UKTI's Overseas Business Risk service provides declassified strategic information on business security related issues.

4. Figure out how to enter the market

Choosing a sales presence in an overseas market can be quite complex. Options include using an agent, a distributor, the internet or a franchise. You can also choose selling straight to retail, direct business-to-business sales, through a joint venture or subsidiary, or even via UK contacts.

However, the suitability of each will depend on your company and products. UKTI, through its advice and guidance via its international network can help you narrow down the options.

5. Find out about selling and marketing your products or services overseas

It might sound obvious, but you should think about how you’ll market and sell your product or service overseas. Think about every element of the marketing mix to make sure you’re competitive. The marketing mix includes the uniqueness of your offer, its price, location, and distribution channel. UKTI and its teams overseas can help to adapt your approach to local conditions and to find answers to the questions you have.

6. Think about cultural and linguistic challenges

Another key aspect of selling and marketing your offer overseas is to consider linguistic and cultural challenges. UKTI and its global network can offer companies advice on cultural awareness and communications.

7. Prepare to manage finance, payment and risk

Choosing the most appropriate methods of payment and pricing are important decisions in managing your cash flow. These will depend on your customer and product, and market conditions. Putting in place a secure and efficient method of processing payments should be one of your top priorities when entering the international trade market.

Managing international risk is also an important part of exporting. There are several categories of risk to take into account. Some of the most important are commercial (non-payment, insolvency, contract disputes, overdue payment, IPR, brand and reputation), political (government change, war, riots, terrorism, border disputes and changes in law) and country-specific issues like exchange and inflation rates.

For more information on these categories of risk, see these sources:

• Finance and insurance advice on the Exporting is GREAT website

• FCO country updates

• www.doingbusiness.org

• www.transparency.org

Video: Your export journey – the financial side of exporting

8. Protect your intellectual property

Protecting your intellectual property can be the difference between commercial success and failure. The Intellectual Property Office offers support and advice on all four main forms of intellectual property – patents, trademarks, designs and copyright. Speak to your local UKTI International Trade Team for initial guidance, and read more about how to protect your intellectual property on the Intellectual Property Office website.

Video: Protecting your rights outside the UK

9. Prepare to fulfil your orders and get your documentation right

It's important to know at an early stage what regulations and legal requirements must be complied with, and which trading terms might apply. The consequences of breaking laws and regulations can be significant.

There’s more information on legal and regulatory issues, including training options, on the following sites:

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs

British Chambers of Commerce

Institute of Export

UK Trade Tariffs via GOV.UK

10. Choose a distribution method

You need to consider the implications of selling over long distances. The kind of goods you export, the level of demand and the type of costs involved can all dictate your distribution options. The OMIS service can offer a wealth of information.

Barclays Business is supporting the Exporting is GREAT campaign. To find out more, visit the Exporting is GREAT website.

This article was first published by UK Trade and Investment.