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How to Start Exporting

According to the Australian Institute of Export, there is strong evidence to suggest that exporting can be a profitable way of expanding your business, spreading risk and reducing your dependence on the domestic market. Free trade agreements, globalisation, and the ease of communication made possible via the internet, are continually drawing world markets closer together.

There are many benefits to exporting including:
  • Economies of scale - the more you produce the lower the production cost per unit.
  • Product life extension - products that are in decline here may be new entrants or just moving into the growth stage overseas.
  • Seasonal factors - our summer is someone's else's winter, exporting allows you to sell your seasonal products year round.
  • Improved performance.
  • New opportunities for growth.
  • Use of excess capacity.

There has never been a better time for Australian companies to enter the export market. Making your exporting efforts successful, however, requires a long term commitment, as well as the ability and willingness to understand and follow business disciplines and professional advice.

First Steps to Exporting

There are many steps to creating a business culture and infrastructure that is conducive to exporting. In addition to market research and financing there are legal issues, insurance and logistics specific to exporting overseas. The Australian government and business leaders have set up associations, institutions, corporations, initiatives and resources to help those new to exporting, as well as those trying to decide whether or not exporting is the best course of action for their particular company.

Read through the Guide to Exporting on the Free Trade Agreements website for a helpful overview of what is required, what to look for, how to assess a market and your business' export potential.

My Export Coach is a free online service that allows companies with limited experience in international markets to make a fast decision about their likely success. It helps answer basic questions such as what you can export, where the best opportunities await, how to export, and what assistance is available.

Austrade provides a free consultation service where you can phone to speak to an export adviser. You can also assess overseas markets using their industry and country profiles.

Austrade and TradeStart offer the New Exporter Development Program which provides a wide range of free services to new exporters including advice and information about getting into exporting, export coaching, and assistance on the ground in foreign markets.

Export Hubs are designed to assist Australian businesses in gaining the information, advice and support they need to become internationally competitive.

Providing Australian businesses with information and advice regarding export products and services, Export Hub advisors assist with research and development, commercialisation, as well as in helping companies to select, enter and develop international markets with as little time, cost and risk as possible.

You can arrange to speak to an Export Hub advisor to find out if your company has export potential and what you can do to grow your business.

Export Plan

If you have decided that exporting is the way forward for your business the next step is to develop an export plan. Not only will an export plan force you to organize your thoughts, it is also often necessary to secure funding.

A SWOT analysis is the place to begin. A critical assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing your business in export markets will allow you to assess the viability of your export ambitions and identify potential problems before they arise.

Next, select a market. Market research will help you identify potential opportunities, market size, trends, potential barriers to entry and other information that will help you build your export plan. In addition to picking a country, you also need to identify your target market within that country. It is important to be as specific as possible in order to identify the best method of distribution, sales and marketing.

Distribution channels, partners and routes to market is the next area to tackle. You need to decide the best way to get your products or services to the new market as well as develop a strategy for sales.

Now comes the marketing budget. You need to be realistic in listing the expenses you are likely to incur. Ensure that every possible expense is on the budget including commissioned market research, overseas travel, trade events, marketing collateral, translation services and product customization.

If you need help in creating an export plan Austrade offers a number of services as do some state governments such as the Export Market Planning (EMP) program from the NSW Department of State and Regional Development or the Export Guide from the Western Australia Department of Industry and Resources.

Export Financing and Grants

The Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme is the Australian Government's principal financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters. Administered by Austrade, the EMDG scheme is aimed at encouraging small and medium sized Australian businesses to develop export markets by reimbursing up to 50 per cent of eligible export promotion expenses above a threshold of $15,000.
AusIndustry's Tradex Scheme offers positive cash flow advantages to businesses involved in exports by providing an up-front exemption of customs duty and GST normally payable on imported inputs used in exported products. You can take advantage of this scheme to strip out these costs, improve your cash flow and make your exports more competitive.
Commercial Ready is AusIndustry's flagship innovation grants program which offers grants of $50,000 to $5 million to small and medium sized businesses for research and development, proof-of-concept, and early-stage commercialisation projects.

Professional Services

There are many services provided to exporters by both public and private sector organizations. So many that it is not surprising that exporters are often confused as to who provides what service and who they should contact for assistance.
The Australian Institute of Export assists exporters in establishing what is available in terms of support, who support is available from and how best to contact the provider.

Start Exporting

The Australian export market continues to break records with record high figures in February, April and May of 2006 and the numbers are expected to reach a record high for the 2005-2006 financial year*. Small and medium sized companies offering niche products continue to be the star performers. Isn't it time you tried it?

*as reported by the Trade Minister

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