This is a question I have been asked before, and as hard as I try, nothing significant comes to mind. British businesses have so many advantages when it comes to exporting – the English language, our legal systems and a generally positive reputation – that I honestly cannot think of a major barrier that we encountered in expanding sales into 110 countries.
In some ways, I would say just getting started is the best way to learn what barriers may be put in your way. However, I cannot overstate the importance of thinking about the key features and benefits of your product or service, just as you would for local market entry, and then using that with in-country market research to prioritise your international attack.
As a starting point, the telephone is a great option, and with the right open attitude and willingness to listen you can learn a great deal. You don’t need to decide immediately whether you want to sell direct or partner with a distributor, but you should understand the issues associated with each option. There is an asset value in owning and controlling your supply chain, but the speed of set up can be more challenging and certainly the overhead risk higher.
You should also stop and ask yourself a few key questions. Are there native suppliers who have monopolies? Are there environmental concerns that might affect your product performance? Is your sector in growth or decline within the target marketplace? Is there financial stability? Are there sample taxes, costs or quota limitations that might be applied for market protection?
Clearly, if the answer to the questions above leads to a negative outlook then a trip to this marketplace may not be viable. However, if the marketplace looks encouraging the next path would be to contact the following organisations:
An invaluable resource that is there for everyone to utilise, with endless information and contacts for UK Exporters like details of trade missions or DTI grants, contact names for local authorities.
This organisation can provide you with market information free of charge, including overviews of the country including the economy, trade, investments and future developments.
Inform the British High Commission in the market area of your pending trip, arrange a meeting at the beginning of your itinerary to establish major contacts and gather internal market information like politics, business leaders, growth areas, new developments or local taxes and duties.
Actual market discovery activities will vary a lot depending on the product you are promoting, but frankly, the market abroad will not be much different from the markets at home so just use a bit of common sense – if you’re selling sailing equipment, go to the local sailing club!
The experiences, fun and relationships I have built overseas are some of my most special memories, learning about the history and culture of different nations and I trying the fantastic food. In all my adventures I only ever felt unsafe once (probably due to my own stupidity), so don’t be afraid to get on a flight, ask all the stupid questions and get listening to people.
Insight from Keynote at Britain means Business covering issues around export and growth: competitiveness, getting the right team, being single-minded, sport and failure.
Read this short article on how Kitbrix embraced the opportunity to go international – click here
Lara Morgan is best known for growing Pacific Direct, from start-up to successful exit, 23 years later. She now invests her time in fast growth companies and represents UKTI as an Export Ambassador, having previously exported to 110 countries. Her vast experience and business knowledge includes specialisms in licensing luxury brands, manufacturing toiletries and selling to the hospitality environment through complex global distribution chains. She's also an expert in leadership and developing talent having learnt through her own experiences of employing 500 employees in an open fast growth sales culture.