Dear M & M: I keep hearing people talk about exporting. How do I know if my company is ready to export to other countries? -Janet
In helping companies to see if they are ready to export the US trade office has developed a few questions one should ask. They are as follows: Do you have a product or service that is being successfully sold in domestic markets now? Have you prepared an international marketing plan with specific goals and strategies? Do you have sufficient production capacities or resources available so you can supply additional sales opportunities from increased demand from foreign sales? Do you have sufficient financial resources to market overseas or to foreign markets? Is management committed in developing export markets and are they willing to dedicate time, resources and staff to the process?
Are you committed to give the same level of service you are currently giving to your domestic customers? Do you possess adequate knowledge to modify product packaging, ingredients, flavor, color, design and offerings to meet foreign import regulations and cultural differences? Does your company possess the knowledge necessary to navigate logistical obstacles in shipping, freight forwarding and freight costing? Do you know anything about export payment mechanisms such as developing and negotiating letters of credit?
There are many export readiness checklist out there. If you have a unique product and are competing with foreign markets selling in the U.S. now I would strongly recommend you take a stronger look at selling to the other 95% of the world population. The SBA, Department of Commerce and Small Business Development Centers can provide additional assistance if you are thinking about selling to foreign markets. Export.gov is a great resource to go to for online assistance http://export.gov/exportbasics/. Also connect with Cochise College Small Business Development Center as they have counselors that can assist.