British companies have a long, proud history of exporting goods and services.

Countries across the world continue to be inspired by the wealth of talent in this country and the fantastic products we create, and this may have inspired your social enterprise to dip its toes in the export market.

Whatever it is you’re considering selling abroad, the following five tips will help you decide how best to approach this exciting opportunity:

1. Conduct thorough research

Thanks to the internet, you’ve got all you need to conduct thorough research on your target export market.

Once you’ve identified a country to which you’d like to export, find out as much as you can about it’s customs, culture and the way it does business. If you can, and the budget allows, get out there and meet people, too.

Just keep an open mind. New markets emerge all the time, and there may be countries that aren’t currently on your list which might provide a much easier route to market. Spread your research far and wide.

2. Focus on one country

You might have several locations you want to target, but if you attempt to head into all of them at once, you’ll quickly find the challenge almost insurmountable.

Exporting is very difficult, and unless you’ve got a team dedicated to the task, you’ll be mixing this project with everything else that’s going on in your social enterprise.

3. Investigate funding options

Chances are, you won’t be able to get into exporting without some financial help.

The costs for getting set up in another market can be considerable, which is why it pays to investigate funding options for doing so.

If you have investors involved already, they should obviously be your first port of call, but spread the net a little wider and speak to your bank, too.

4. Think about your social enterprise’s brand

You’ve spent a considerably amount of time, effort and expense in creating a brilliant brand for your social enterprise. And, in the UK, it’s working perfectly, but don’t assume it’ll translate well abroad.

Working methods and foreign cultures may not chime well with your social enterprise’s brand. Consider what is uniquely British about it and whether or not that will translate satisfactorily to other countries.

This is where you’ll need to spend time with people from the country in question. Ask their opinion on your brand and assess their reactions to its various quirks and personality.

5. Get the price right

This goes without say, right? Unfortunately, it’s a common trap businesses fall into when looking to export for the first time.

You may need to factor in additional transport costs and exchange rates in order to maintain a healthy margin. Equally, what’s a good price over here may not be in the country to which you want to export.

Pricing for exportable goods and services takes time and, again, requires plenty of research – don’t skip this vital step.

Final thought

Exporting is an exciting prospect for many social enterprises, but it needs an awful lot of careful consideration and planning.

If you have any doubts about your enterprise’s suitability for the export market, why not talk to one of our friendly advisors? It won’t cost a penny!

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