Eligible Victorian companies are using Small Business Victoria grant funding to catapult their export drive. It is a program beneficial to businesses that are either new or experienced exporters. In fact, a broad range of small businesses from many different sectors are in a position to take advantage of this great opportunity to help consolidate their goals and objectives for achieving exportoriented sales. If the business that is interested in overseas markets meets the eligibility criteria, then it is ideally suited to the Victoria government subsidised export planning and development scheme known as Grow Your Business, which shows that the state is willing to financially support businesses interested in export.
3 steps to profitable exporting
The program consists of three distinct steps of 1) Review, 2) Plan and 3) Implement. During the review, relevant information is gathered on the business and potential overseas markets to assist in the exploration towards choosing export market destination options, and underpinning certain decision-making. Next, a tailored plan is developed to outline market entry strategy and selling tactics in the chosen overseas markets. Finally, during the implementation phase, the agreed plan is actioned by the business. There are many companies with an interest in overseas markets, but quite a few of these do not have a good understanding of how to go about it. Coaching support is delivered to provide leadership and overall implementation success. So long as the business is eligible and has an appetite for export, they are poised to succeed in overseas markets. Inexperienced exporters unwittingly spend money and invest resources without having researched and clarified their goals, and end up with little return or without the desired outcome. Beyond regular business fundamentals there are always additional aspects such as logistics, which market to approach, and pricing, which require careful consideration and planning to avert unexpected costs or reduced profitability for the business. The Grow Your Business grant program is a terrific means for a business to approach achieving their export goals in the appropriate manner to avoid any surprises.
Which businesses are eligible?
Like all grant programs, there are certain eligibility criteria that the business must meet to be able to apply. The business must have a trading record of around two years, demonstrate it has been able to return a profit, has a turnover of at least $1 million, and is a Victorian operation with the specific intention to increase sales in overseas markets. The program is particularly suited to businesses with a view to begin their exporting footprint. The Grow Your Business grant program assures the businesses successful first steps into overseas markets. It is an initiative that has been operating for more than 20 years and has been extremely successful in providing financial assistance to many businesses that have an aspiration to sell in overseas markets. Once approved to receive funding support from Small Business Victoria, businesses can expect to receive a more than 50 percent subsidy from the Victorian Government to pay for a professional export aware adviser if they are approved to receive a Grow Your Business grant.
It is important for businesses to realise they will need to make a dedicated commitment by way of providing human resources over time, allocate management time to make decisions and work through scenarios, and allow access to confidential company information. The final decisions ultimately reside with the business and the final success will be determined by the company’s dedication to engaging in the decision making during the review and planning phases as much as following through with the agreed action plan that will be a major outcome of the program. While opportunities to access grants are appealing, there is sometimes the obstacle of how to go about it, and in particular navigating the government system to assure success. A good export adviser with solid understanding of how to deal with Small Business Victoria and overseas markets along with relevant expertise in marketing, innovation and international business will increase chances of success.
Growing export markets
Beyond the initial review and planning activities there is the potential to receive ongoing support funding to subsidise monthly mentoring and to make that all-important first step of visiting the market determined to be the best potential, for either in-market research or exhibiting purposes. Ongoing investment in export related activities may be eligible for 50 percent reimbursement via the Federal Government’s Export Market Development Grants scheme and the final balance is usually tax deductible. Successful export marketing initiatives are the result of a carefully thought out approach with well managed communication and relationship building rather than being a response to a sudden interest from a foreign country or the outcome of exhibiting at a trade fair without any planning beforehand. 'Accidental exporting' often ends in failure. While trading overseas is an excellent opportunity for some businesses, at the same time it is laden with many challenges and risks to overcome. For businesses serious about export, the Grow Your Business program is an excellent pathway to achieving and growing profitable sales overseas. If you think your business meets the eligibility criteria, and you have the essential desire to conquer new markets, see the Small Business Victoria - Grow Your Business site for more facts. -Steve Dowling is founder and director of ClientLink (www.clientlink.com.au), a boutique consultancy specialising in helping small to medium businesses achieve success in marketing and export planning.