• The beginner’s guide to going global

The beginner’s guide to going global

Looking to try your hand at exporting? Make sure you’re well prepared with our step-by-step guide.


From long-term growth opportunities to increased sales, exporting can have all sorts of benefits for small and medium-sized businesses. Research from HSBC has revealed that for more than one-fifth of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), exports make up over half their total revenue.

However, the report also found that confidence, cultural barriers and a lack of experience are still holding small businesses back from exporting. If you’re an SME owner looking to break into new markets, don’t worry that you’re new to the game. Here, we’ve got everything you need to know about going global in our beginner’s guide.

1. Research overseas markets

Narrowing down your choices can bring focus to your exporting strategy

With so many markets to choose from, it’ll take some research where demand for your products or services exists. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of each market, and reach out to any oversees contacts you may have to gauge interest.

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to one or two countries/territories, find out as much information as you can about your target audience and conduct thorough competitor analysis so you know what is and isn’t working.

2. Get your finances in check

There are a range of funding options available to businesses

From extra logistics to payroll fees, exporting can put a strain on your company bank balance. Before you take the plunge, make sure you’ve got some resource aside to cover costs.

You may be able to receive funding for your exports, either through a bank or a local government scheme. Arrange meetings with an advisor at both to see what’s available to you.

3. Visit your chosen country/territory

Get networking at meetings, trade shows and industry events

In order to really understand your new market, go there. Become familiar with the different customs procedures around the world as well as cultural differences and, if possible, the language. When in meetings with potential export partners, these things could help you to stand out.

You should also try to organise as many meetings as possible with local small businesses, as their experience could be invaluable. Attend trade shows and other industry events, soaking up knowledge and making new contacts.

4. Arrange your route to market

Expert advice can be valuable when it comes to choosing your route

According to the Institute of Export, the professional membership body representing trade worldwide, the four main routes to exporting are: selling directly; selling through agents and distributors; contractual methods (eg licensing and franchising); and setting up overseas operations.

The path you take will depend on your target market and their typical routes, so seek expert advice where possible to make sure you’re choosing the right one. Depending on resources and what’s possible for your products, you may even want to explore a couple.

5. Start selling online

Ecommerce sales are set to hit $4 trillion by 2020

When you’ve reached the stage where you can begin exporting, make sure your ecommerce store is up to scratch. And if you haven’t got one, create one – eMarketer found that ecommerce sales will reach $4 trillion by 2020, making selling online a must if you want to compete.

You’ll need to localise your site in order for international users to buy goods, translating the content and setting up different domains and IP addresses. Make sure you also take into consideration any specific cultural differences, such as each market’s preferred method of payment.

6. Partner with a top logistics provider

Choose a courier that understands and meets your business needs

You want to feel confident that your products will arrive at their destination safely and on time. FedEx Express offers a range of services for international deliveries, like FedEx International Priority®, which offers next-day delivery to many destinations.

When shipping your products, remember to package them up securely, using the correct labelling where necessary. Bear in mind any rules and requirements specific to your chosen market.

Once you’ve covered off these steps, reaping the benefits of FedEx Express extensive range of international courier services, you’ll be ready to take your products to market. Good luck!


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