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Tips on starting a successful export business

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Blogger Paul Ryan from FatCow.com.au offers some helpful tips to making your export business successful. Owning an export business means that you must present your business - no matter how big or how small - as a genuine and trustworthy potential alliance. If you trade internationally, then let people know! Your website should clearly state what country your business is from and make contact from overseas easier by including dial up codes and your address. However, there is more to starting up an export business than communicating via website information where you are from and what you do (although that is very important). You also need to be aware of your responsibilities, legal obligations, who your target market is and how much time and money you should be spending. Educate yourself As an exporter it is your responsibility to be aware of any export/import regulations and any terms of trade. Different products have different requirements when being exported. The best option is to contact your industry association or export authority for advice and further information about what you will need to successfully and legally operate your business. Depending on what products you are selling you may need an export permit, licence, veterinary or fito-sanitary certificate or there may be another regulatory requirements that you will have to meet. You will also have to find out the regulations and legal requirements that are present in the country you would like to export to. The Consulate and Trade Commissioner of that country will be able to provide you with the most up to date and relevant information for the specific market you will be trading into. A website will always be necessary In international trade the majority of your clients will find you, and learn about your products and services, via your website. Without a website, more often than not you will lose clients to competitors who do have a corporate website. To international customers your website is your business, so treat it that way! Include a product catalogue, information about your business, where you are situated, what you do and what your general terms of trade are. If you export specific products that have specific regulations then list those and be sure to include as much information for your potential clients as possible. Additionally, there are many websites out there that can help you find, or promote your business to, potential clients. Websites such as export trade forums, associations, online trade boards and even industry specific online directories, such as FatCow.com.au, which not only allow customers to easily find your business but also help with search engine optimisation and lead generation. Know who your target market is International markets may be a bit different to local markets so ensure you know exactly what market you will be trading into. Use your resources - Austrade, chambers of commerce, associations, consulates, export authorities and your own associates and networks will be able to give you advice and point you in the right direction. Also, think about your own geographical location in relation to those countries you want to trade into. Is your location attractive to those markets? For example, Asian countries will see Australia as a much more attractive market to trade with as, location-wise we are closer and also many Asian countries have a familiarity with Australian products and services so are more inclined to trade. Additionally, be prepared to customise your products to meet your customers’ needs. Just because a product of yours is successful locally doesn’t mean it will be successful on a global scale. Research your market and see what it is they want or need from your product that competitors aren’t giving them. Plan out your time and money Investing in a global market can cost substantially more than investing in a local market. It’s all about researching how much money you will need in order to successfully start your business. Know how much is too much but also understand that you will need to prepare for higher expenses. Also, when looking to expand into the global market, you will need to invest a lot of time and energy into finding out the right information. Don’t plan to go in blind and "wing it" from the start - invest as much time as you believe is necessary and then a bit more. Time spent preparing and planning will always end in you in a better position.

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