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International success begins at home

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Before launching your company into the European market, you should ask yourself these questions…

Is it the right time to begin exporting? Do I have the resources to become an exporter?

A mistake made by many small business owners is to believe that they can start exporting without having fully developed their local Australian business model.

When a company has not yet worked out how it is going to operate, or it only generates a limited revenue, there is no point in considering exporting.

It is important to take the needs and wants of international markets into account, so conducting research is essential. Looking for European clients when you haven’t worked out what you have to offer your local market may put your business at risk.

Many small business owners approach me seeking my help to start exporting to Europe without having properly developed their Australian business.

The advice I offer them is to provide an overview of what is happening in the European market within their industry, or feedback from potential clients. I always offer to stay in touch, and I advise them that I can assist them with research into the European market.

Understand your target market

Before exporting to Europe, it is important to understand your target market. Get to know the types of clients your business relates to.

You are often able to close deals in a specific industry because your product or service solves problems they have encountered, or is relevant to the industry.

Define that client profile and use this definition as a starting point for your exporting activities. This exercise will save you time in sourcing clients as you already understand this market and its issues.

The exception is where a particular industry has a low profile in Europe. European customers will always assess you by references from clients in your local market.

If you have not worked out who your target market is and which industry sector is clearly your niche, it will be costly for you to figure it out in a foreign market.

Costly and time consuming

It is cheaper to visit potential clients in your home market and to confirm their interest in what you do.

In Europe, it is costly and time consuming to discover potential customers if you don’t already have a clear picture of the market.

Recently launched small high-tech businesses will find it harder to achieve success in the European market.

It is important for European customers to feel confident that your company is reliable and will not go bankrupt once they buy your product.

If you don’t have any tangible customers and revenue to prove your business’s viability, it will be harder to convince any potential new clients. European companies will examine your company credentials and quiz you about who you are selling to.

They want to know whether or not you’re a trustworthy company.

If you have Government contracts in your home country your credibility is boosted in the eyes of your potential European customer. It demonstrates your financial stability.

Christelle Damiens is the managing director of Exportia Australia and the president of Exportia France. She has been Foreign Trade Adviser appointed by the French Prime Minister, between 2009 and 2012.https://www.exportia.com.au/

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