International Trade

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How to – and how NOT to – export

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April sees the launch of UK Trade & Investment’s (UKTI) Export Week, and thousands of companies will be opening their doors to show the rest of the world why Britain is a great place to do business. 

While some businesses are embracing exports and taking the world by storm, others are still getting it very wrong.

Here are my tips for how to make the most of exporting – and what to avoid:

Get OUT there!
Visit likely territories and find out if there is a market. Companies always look at the negatives of export markets when actually these factors can be quite the opposite – larger orders, upfront payment and growing markets. Plus, an English accent can get you a long way.

Banks aren’t always bad
People don’t realise how good bank financial controls can be, and how willing banks are to help companies minimise export risk and get growth funding for export. British businesses’ approach to law and ethics is respected in nearly every corner of the world, so it is inexcusable not to have a go.

Eyes on the prize
Focus on the bigger margin, larger volume opportunities. By opening accounts with the best client in town you’ll soon have the others following.

Stay lean
There is no need to spend money on expensive overheads. Lead by example, book an economy flight, get out there, do your research, solve problems and learn to sleep standing up – it takes practice but it can be done.

Don’t ship fresh air
Maximise your pallet loads to minimise shipment costs.

Pick your team wisely
DO NOT put your best people abroad and expect them to succeed fast. Employ locals in local territories – ideally taken straight from your major competitor in that land.

Lara Morgan is an experienced entrepreneur, who built, grew and sold Pacific Direct, an international business. She is now the founder and CEO of Company Shortcuts, a consultancy dedicated to excellence in sales and leadership.

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