Handbook

Four steps to beginning exporting

Despite increasing complexity, never before has doing business internationally been so profitable. That’s why we want to encourage more small and medium enterprises to take the first steps towards exporting – read how to get started here!

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Before SMEs can start exporting, these four issues have to be considered.

Don’t let yourself be deterred by any trade barriers or time-consuming clarification – we can help you. With a thorough market analysis, a suitable market entry model and carefully selected business partners, you have a good chance of achieving international success.

We want to prepare you for your first steps into new markets. Essentially, it comes down to four big questions that you will have to face.

You can take a closer look at these by means of our guide “Getting started with internationalization,” which you can download below. It presents the important issues, but also tangible recommendations for tools and contacts that will help you progress.

Would you prefer to individually check how ready your company is to step into international business? You can get a report tailored to your situation from us if you take ten minutes to complete this online questionnaireQuestionnaire

1. How does your company work?

The best path into new international markets is unique for each company. A company’s business model and characteristics play an essential role in the choice of the appropriate approach. An example: Larger companies usually have more financial and personnel resources, but sometimes cannot keep up with the flexibility and speed of small businesses when it comes to opportunity-driven entry and testing of new markets. Companies that manufacture and develop in-house may have more opportunities to adapt to local market requirements than pure trading companies – but the latter often have larger portfolios that may be suitable for digital distribution channels. Companies whose offerings are strongly dependent on the knowledge and skills of key individuals are usually highly specialized and in demand, but the scalability of their business model may be somewhat more limited than companies whose salesrelevant know-how is easily transferable to partners. Overall, there is no “right” or “wrong” to characterize a company. Rather, a company’s individual approach to internationalization must be trailered to special circumstances and requirements.

Keep reading to find out what business and sales models are particularly suitable for business abroad in the complete “Getting Started with Internationalization” handbook – below this article.

2. How internationally competitive is your offer?

It is an economic reality of our time that there is no such thing as an easy entry into foreign markets. As a rule, you start from zero in the market of every new country. A good market position and awareness of your company in Switzerland alone are no indication of rapid, equivalent market success abroad, but are certainly a good starting point.

The intensity of competition and the speed of change are very high in most industries and markets. This shortens the time required to make each offer unique on an ongoing basis. It is all the more important, then, to continuously monitor the market environment abroad and to understand how your offerings can be successfully integrated.

Each market is a art in itself, with different profiles and customers and partner requirements, different regulations and price structures. Even culturally similar markets are often subject to completely different market mechanisms than those we are familiar with from our home market. Sufficient attention must therefore be paid at all times to the market-specific design and further development of offerings, value proposition, pricing and business model.

Keep reading to find out how to identify a good entry market, what you need to find out about it, how to determine the competitiveness and price structures of your products and how to keep a tight grip on your cost structures, as well as what legal and regulatory issues you should look out for – all in the “Getting Started with Internationalization” handbook.

3. How much resources can you put into international activities?

For one in four companies, financing is a central obstacle to the expansion of internationalization activities or a planned entry abroad. This applies to both exports and direct investments and affects companies of all sizes. The likelihood of problems in export financing as well as in financing direct investments is particularly great for small enterprises.

For this reason, it makes sense in many cases to build up a certain degree of entrepreneurial stature and a certain base business in the home market first. Internationalization is certainly possible for small companies with few employees. In any case, however, also in small teams the person entrusted with international business needs sufficient time capacity to successfully build up new business abroad in the long term. Existing know-how, experience and networks in international business can help to accelerate market entry.

Keep reading to find out what requirements you need to have for your staff and finances, and how to deal with the risks of doing business abroad in the handbook below.

4. How ambitious is the executive committee of your company?

Growth expectations and willingness to take risks are just as important for the choice of approach abroad as individual attitudes, backgrounds and the willingness of the executive management to take risks. These cultural and entrepreneurial conditions within a company must be taken into account if internationalization is to succeed in the long term.

A company with a strong local presence and low expectations for its international business can reasonably begin with individual export-focused activities, initial visits to trade fairs and selective network building in the surrounding countries. In the best case scenario, the willingness to invest will be moderate – foreign business will need to pay off right from the start. There is a comparatively low level of opportunity.

A newer company with a big appetite for growth, whose key individuals already have experience abroad, will incorporate the parallel development of several markets as a strategic component in business planning right from the start. There is great 8 ambition, but financial resources are limited. It is important here to consider carefully how synergies can be created in the markets. For example, it may make sense to form country groups that place comparable demands on market development (language, offer, logistics).

Keep reading to find out about your options in the complete “Getting Started with Internationalization” handbook.

About the “Export Compact” handbook

The topics and contents of “Export Compact” are based on recognized scientific knowledge regarding the requirements SMEs must fulfill for successful export; it also draws on the long-standing practical experience of Switzerland Global Enterprise’s country consultants garnered from supporting small and medium-sized Swiss and Liechtenstein companies on their journey into international markets.

The manual is intended to be an evaluation of readiness for the first steps in exporting. Use it digitally. Click on the links marked with an “i” at the end of each subchapter to access more detailed information.

Is your question not listed?

Then get in touch with your first contact for any questions about your export project – quickly, easily and free of charge. Contact ExportHelp now!

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