Export education for business
For businesses entering the exciting world of export, there will be some new skill sets required. Those skills range from having the sales, negotiating, and business culture savvy to sign up sales and alliances in a new market, through to understanding the supply chain logistics of safely delivering the product or service to your new customer.
Included in the middle are the financing, payment, documentation, insurance and risk mitigation strategies that will all ensure successful exporting.
Being able to obtain, service and grow an overseas client is very different to looking after a domestic buyer. If you make a mistake with an overseas order, the potential ramifications to the business are much larger and can often be more significant to your business. Therefore, it’s best to prepare for your foray overseas by giving your staff the right skills to make it happen. The skills and know-how for export come from a range of sources, and there are some key ones that exporters need to focus on.
The sales/negotiation process
This involves an understanding of areas like contract law in the buyer’s legal jurisdiction, as well as the expected business and cultural ‘rules’ in the country. It also includes the business negotiation process and particularly the approval process when dealing with government contracts. There is also the concern of protecting your intellectual property in a new market, to ensure your original products or services are not stolen or replicated.
To cover off these areas, the tertiary sector, via international business and international marketing courses and MBAs, provides support. On a more practical level, organisations like Austrade, IP Australia plus accounting and legal bodies that understand the requirements of specific markets can provide assistance and guidance.
The supply chain process
This involves moving the product or, if you are a service business, perhaps moving staff offshore. Your staff need to understand the extensive process of booking transport by air or sea, the packaging requirements, deciding which party will organise and pay for tariffs and duties, freight, marine insurance, port charges and so forth. For service businesses that are stationing staff offshore, ‘supply chain’ considerations should include visas, accommodation and funding for expenses.
For support, you should work with a credible freight forwarder, which can be an immense help. The Custom Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA) and the Australian Federation of International Forwarders (AFIF) are two freight forwarder membership groups you should consider for finding contacts. Both associations also run training programs on key logistic requirements such as dangerous goods rules and regulations for shipments. Understanding the process within the business is invaluable, and the Australian Institute of Export (AIEx) also runs regular courses on the end-to-end trade procedures.
For service providers, working with an accounting firm with international offices or global affiliations can provide the necessary detail on staffing issues and managing an overseas point of representation.
The documentation/administration process
The preparation of the documents that must accompany every export is another essential skill to learn. Apart from the transport documents, you are required to deal with commercial invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, insurance certificates, health, and industry approvals. And if you are using a documentary letter of credit to ensure payment, all these documents need to be accurate and line up to include common information.
There are documentation packages that can supply a lot of this information in a template format, including authorised government forms such as a customs authority number (CAN) to allow export. A listing is available on the Australian Customs website.
There are training sessions provided by many of the banks, and the AIEx, on working through the documentary letter of credit process, and your freight forwarder may be able to supply these documents as part of their service.