Exporting: the 10 commandments

The ten commandments of exporting have been written to provide first time exporters with some fundamental advice on how to physically and mentally prepare for export action.

1. Conquer your home market first

Establish a solid domestic market before venturing into export. It will arm you with the skills and experience required for the rigours of exporting and provides much-needed cash-flow to finance your export campaign. Austrade research indicates that 90% of successful exporters were already well established in the Australian market before they attempted to export.

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2. Be committed and patient

Never underestimate the amount of time, effort, money and commitment required to succeed in exporting. You will need to be patient. Do not expect things to happen overnight and do not try to rush. Mistakes can be costly and opportunities can disappear as fast as they appear if you are not careful.

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3. Be flexible and adaptable

Do not try to be all things to all people. It is highly likely you will have to adapt your products or services to suit each export market you target. This will improve your chances of success.

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4. Undertake thorough research

Be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time thoroughly researching potential markets. Identify real opportunities. Be aware of how much information is already available to you and where to find it, either in your home country or in the target markets.

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5. Plan a progressive market entry

Prioritise your list of potential target markets based on the results of your desk and in-market research. Plan to enter them one at a time in a planned and calculated manner. A multiple market entry strategy can break many small businesses because the strain on resources is simply too great.

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6. Develop strong relationships

Select your export partners carefully. Assess not only their contacts and market position but also their ethics and commitment to the relationship. Work steadfastly at developing partnerships by ensuring clear and open lines of communication and an environment of mutual respect and trust.

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7. Visit your markets

Be prepared to visit potential markets before you commence export activity to assess the potential first hand and identify possible export partners. Once established, regular market visits will help to cement the relationships and keep you abreast of changing market circumstances.

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8. Plan your export campaign

Success in exporting will not come by good luck. Develop a detailed export plan that establishes goals and objectives, sets out the strategies and actions you will use to achieve your objectives and quantifies the financial and operational impact on your business. Currency fluctuations can have a major impact on export profits and they should be factored into your planning.

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9. Do not try to re-invent the wheel

Be aware of the multitude of public and private sector support programs and resource centres. Make full use of them. Many are either free or work on a basic cost recovery basis. Be prepared to pay for expertise when you need it.

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10. Enjoy export

A positive attitude and will to succeed will help you to enjoy your export development activities. Do not set unrealistic goals or commit yourself to unreasonable timelines. The resulting stress and pressure will only diminish your enjoyment and consequently, commitment to the export process. The world of export can open up substantial business opportunities. It may lead to the creation of lasting friends as you become an ambassador for trade, building international trade and goodwill for the benefit of all countries.

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