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April 1, 2013 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By James Drever, WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz business adviser
“We just started our business and would like to know if exporting is something for us.” Fiona, Cheyenne
This is Part II on the discussion about the need to assess a business, its products and strategic goals before jumping into exporting products. Assuming a business is ready, the next step is to develop an export plan.
An export plan is similar to, and can be seen as a branch of, a business plan. It should begin with an executive summary that includes the fundamental reasons the company is exporting. To develop a plan, choose the products/services to be exported and see how you may need to modify them for customers outside the United States.
Once you have determined your offering(s), try to find your best probable customers. I recommend several potential countries and that you research to see if there are obvious pros or cons to each country. From this basic analysis, narrow the scope and obtain in-depth research on the remaining markets. You can pay for reports (approximately $600 per country) through the U.S. Commercial Service or receive cost-free reports from the WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz Market Research Center.
Based on those reports, you are ready to develop your written plan. For this, contact a WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz representative for a template, or develop your own. The Small Business Administration’s basic exporting guidelines advise the following items be included:
Identify which products and what modifications need to be made to them, and to which countries they will be exported. Develop a basic customer profile and how the business owner will market the product; find the right distribution channels; identify the special challenges, competition, cultural differences and import controls; decide export sales price, operational steps and time frame for each part of the plan; decide what personnel and other company resources will be needed; and, later, how business-related results will be evaluated to modify the plan.
Export.gov is a great resource to start with, but contacting a regional export center or WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz office to find out about all the resources available is the first step. The resources can help find buyers, negotiate customs, manage payments or find intermediaries to help with some or all exporting questions.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.