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Getting a Business Ready for International Trade

Articles > Getting a Business Ready for International Trade

If your company is not prepared to take risks, then participating in international trade would be a mistake.

There are too many potential problems and too many things that actually do go wrong to make it worthwhile for any organization that just wants to play it safe.

Of course there are ways of reducing the risk to acceptable levels. Restricting yourself to importing would be a first step but if you are convinced that you should be enjoying some of the huge benefits available for those that import and export internationally, then you had better get busy with the checklists.

Firstly and most importantly, you must have a product which is working in your own domestic market. It is extremely unlikely that a failing product can be saved by launching it overseas. The reasons why it is not attracting buyers at home will only be magnified as you cross borders.

Secondly, you need to be satisfied beyond any doubt that there is a market for your product internationally. Carry out market research as early, as thoroughly and as often as you can, while being aware that market research can also be wrong!

Third, you should strongly consider using a local partner to help you get established. Having someone to guide you through the possible cultural complexities can be invaluable since translation isn't necessarily always enough. A local agent or company can introduce you to the right people and point you in the right direction.

Fourthly, it's all about the marketing. You must have sufficient resources to plan and sustain a marketing campaign in the territories where you wish to be present. This should all follow from a detailed marketing plan that takes into account local cultural sensibilities.

Fifth, ensure that you have the resources and production capacity to supply your product to the new market should your marketing campaign succeed.

Sixth, can you guarantee the same levels of service to your international customers as you do to your domestic ones? Just because they're foreign doesn't mean they won't complain.

Seven, does your organization have the capacity to handle international freight or do you need to employ a freight forwarder?

Eight, make contact with suppliers or buyers through international trade shows, b2b portals or business directories.

Nine, contact the relevant government departments dealing with import/export, customs etc

Ten, get in touch with the embassy or consulate of the country where you wish to trade, they should have a great deal of local knowledge and market intelligence to share and they can introduce you to the right people.

Of course this is a very basic guide to what may be one of the most important steps your company ever takes but, as always, there is one other item to add to the checklist that is valid for everything you ever do

Eleven, ask someone who has already done it for advice. There are organizations of importing and exporting companies that will be an invaluable (and free) resource.

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