What to include in an export plan
Your export plan is a living document that will change over time, but there are important topics you need to cover.
If you plan to get some expert advice, make sure you've thought about all these points first.
The main topics your export plan should cover are:
Keep it brief and be sure to include:
- a description of your company including how long you've been trading, annual turnover and employee numbers
- any experience you already have in exporting
- a clear explanation about your product or service offering, where it fits in the market or industry and who your customers are
Your market research should give you evidence to help you make decisions about your business. It should look at:
- market demand
- size of the market
- number of potential customers
- trends in the market
- growth rate
- structure of the market
- channels to market
- price analysis - consider when setting your international pricing
- costs of supplying into the market
- critical success factors
Cashflow forecasts are vital to help run your business. They allow you to understand how your business is doing financially. This is measured against how you have predicted your business will do.
Comparing your actual business performance to your forecasts will help you make decisions to run and grow your business.
Your export plan should include:
- monthly cash flow forecast (estimated revenues and costs)
- peak cash requirements and working capital required to implement the plan
- estimated time to break even
- forecasts looking ahead 2 years
- sensitivity analysis
Visit GOV.UK to watch a video on forecasting your business finances.
Managing risks and business continuity are vital parts of running a business. When you decide to start exporting you need to identify and manage the risks – these could be:
- legal issues like contracts or intellectual property
- financial risks such as late or no payments or exchange rate changes
- distribution and logistics - particularly for perishable products
- political and economic risks
- changes to regulations
Seek out networking opportunities and trade introductions in your business area – they can be useful at any stage of your exporting journey. Consider:
- how many times you plan to visit the market over the coming year?
- which trade shows and exhibitions you plan to attend or exhibit at and your objectives for attending?
- the costs of visiting the market and attending or exhibiting at trade shows
- what you need to do to prepare?
- the support you need and where you might find it
- putting together a budget for these activities
The term 'market entry' covers the way you get your product or service to your chosen market. You'll need to create a strong market entry strategy and review it regularly. Your strategy should include:
- market positioning
Getting your distribution strategy right can be the difference between success and failure when it comes to exporting.
You need to:
- understand the different ways you can distribute your goods or services
- understand costs in your distribution chain
- find out the average rates of commission for an agent or margin for a distributor in the market
- understand how much your preferred agent / distributor will take
- research your preferred agent or distributor thoroughly before making an agreement including credit checks
- discuss with the agent or distributor their contacts and their plans to grow your sales
- create a draft agreement with the agent or distributor and then check it with your lawyer
- ask your lawyer to check the contract with a lawyer in the country you'll be exporting to
Find out more about international contracts with agents and distributors.
When talking about marketing and PR in your export plan, make sure you cover:
- your international marketing plan – how you plan to raise awareness of your products or services
- the role of your local agent, distributor or representative in marketing and promoting your business
- social media and e-commerce – how you'll use the internet and social media to market and sell your products or services
The Export Savvy website has a training module on communications and marketing.