Dossier Starter

First step: export basics - prepare and build export knowledge

Is your company ready for internationalization? In the first step, “Export Basics”, you get to know the international business and gain the first important insights for getting started with export.

Export Basics

For more and more Swiss SMEs, doing business abroad is a fundamental strategic option for gaining competitive advantages – both in the procurement as well as sales markets. Today, a growing number of Swiss SMEs are already networked across borders with international business partners and foreign customers. We’ll show you how you can grow beyond Switzerland and operate internationally.

Important questions that you should ask yourself at the beginning:

Can a small company cope with internationalization?

The answer to this question is "yes" in most cases. For most SMEs, there are good ways to get started with activities abroad. Digitization in particular also opens up new possibilities for networking and marketing your offers abroad, which helps to compensate for limited resources. This opens up undreamed-of possibilities, especially for smaller companies. Read here how digitization helps with export!

Are our offerings abroad at all competitive?

In order to test the competitiveness of your own products, you should define three to five decisive competitive value propositions for your offering from the customer's point of view. What market conditions must exist in the foreign market for the product or service to be as successful as in the domestic market? Talk to local customers, business partners and competitors to determine the chances of success of your product. You can find more information on the subject here: Competitiveness of Swiss offerings

Is "Made in Switzerland" an economically viable advantage for our SME?

What advantages does the “Made in Switzerland” have abroad and what rules must be observed to communicate this? Essentially, the communicative value of Switzerland as a country of origin is generally high, albeit never as the sole argument. The relevance of the attribute varies – depending on the industry and target country. Check the requirements for using "Made in Switzerland" here.

How do we finance our expansion abroad?

Plan financial expenses with sufficient flexibility. Solid growth is not only in the interest of the SME itself, but also of all partners involved. Draw up a business plan with different revenue and financing models in comparison, evaluate the opportunities and risks and talk to your banking partners. You can find out more about the financing procedure here.

How do we deal with risks?

What risks should be expected in export? Create an overview of the various risks (regulatory, economic and political, but also partner and person-related risks). Carry out an assessment: What are the main risks? What is the probability of risks occurring in the case of your business project? What would be the effects? What should be done to prevent and limit damage? Click here for an overview and how you can avoid the risks.

Where can I find answers to administrative questions?

The internationalization project should not fail due to administrative hurdles. The checklist from S-GE offers you a solid basis for all issues concerning export administration: Which basic documents do you need to know? Where can you look up customs tariff numbers? In the checklist you will find further explanations and links to customs clearance, export control, value added tax, delivery conditions and special certifications. To the checklist for export starters!

You don't have to laboriously acquire export knowledge with intensive research – you can count on qualified experts. Where can you get support on your journey into new markets? From private providers, chambers of commerce and industry associations to the official Swiss export promotion organization Switzerland Global Enterprise, there are a large number of agencies and partners who will assist you in an advisory and implementation capacity. A contact list with the most important players can be found in our "Export Compact" handbook.

Step two: Find the right export market!

After you have answered the basic export questions, it’s time to decide on a target market. Read here in the second step what you have to watch out for!