Export 101

Exploring new markets is a smart business strategy. There are many emerging international markets that may be very interested in buying your product or service. For example, BRICS economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are witnessing rapid growth of imported products. Selling to international markets also protects your business against the downturn in local economy while increasing your competitiveness.

First, you need to evaluate if you are export ready. To be successful at exporting, a business needs proper planning, a good understanding of the culture, business practices of the market, a major commitment in terms of research and resources, as well as a clear understanding and knowledge of required documents, forms of payment, shipping, insurance and financing. Below are a few tips on how you can confidently extend your business into a new market.

Identify your market: Assess your international market to find out if there is a demand for your goods or service in the region. Conduct a SWOT analysis and check export controls. Research the business, political, legal and cultural environments to help decide if the identified market is worth investing in. Your product will probably need adaptations to fit local tastes and needs. You can get a lot of this information by checking the exporter’s guides on the Canada Border Services Agency and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) websites. The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service can provide practical and hands-on information about international markets.

Local Partnership: Partnering with a local company in the country you are exporting to mitigates the business risk and provides easy access to the new market. It can help in navigating regulations and ensure that labeling, packaging, language and safety standards confirm to local standards. It can also help with proper logistics management by providing access to local warehouses and established distribution channels. Partnering can be in the form of an agency relationship, distributor, joint venture, licensing, share ownership or general partnership. You can find out about potential partners from several sources including trade shows. You can then go to Dun and Bradstreet service and Export Development Canada to check their credibility or liquidity.

Rules and Regulations: Customs rules vary from country to country and these are applicable to the specific products that you plan to export. Countries also have trade agreements. If your target market has a Free Trade Agreement with Canada, then you have the advantage of not paying or paying very low tariff rates . Canada Border Services Agency also enforces legislation and regulations to ensure that prohibited and controlled goods are not illegally exported from Canada. Familiarize yourself with The International Commercial terms (Incoterms). These are a series of pre-defined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) widely used in the logistics of international commercial transactions.

Financing: Exporting requires financing. Lack of financing can be a key barrier. Women’s Enterprise Centre provides loans up to $150,000 to qualifying clients. For more information, please check our website. Export Development Canada can provide you with insurance to protect your international transactions. There are several organizations providing financing support to help with working capital for export oriented businesses. For more information on these please call a Women’s Enterprise Business Advisor at 1-800-643-7014.

Exporting is not tough! You just have to prepare well in terms of costs, time and commitment to be successful internationally. Small Business BC’s Tradestart program can help you get ready for the global market. Women’s Enterprise Centre’s Business Advisors can help you with guidance on preparing your export plan. They can also assess your export strategy and overall business plan and give you feedback.

If you need more information on how to export or are looking for a loan, e-mail us at clientservices@womensenterpise.ca.

Cecilia Mkondiwa

Cecilia Mkondiwa is the Director of Program Delivery for Women’s Enterprise Centre. During her career at WEC, she has spent over 14 years working with clients in business advisory and financing. Over the years, Cecilia has worked one-on-one with over 500 business owners. Cecilia is involved directly with growth-oriented businesses that are expanding internationally.

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