7 Golden Rules for Driving Export Success
Experienced business owner Henry Williams offers his learned and essential tips to help you succeed in an overseas market
Exporting is a crucial element if businesses are to grow, create jobs and boost the economy; UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) research shows companies that export can see a 34% increase in productivity within the first year of exporting and are 11% more likely to survive.
Since we started exporting in 2011, we export nearly a quarter of our turnover, representing over £1.2m. We now export luxury cars, parts and accessories across the globe and have doubled our team to deal with business growth.
Of course, exporting is not without its challenges. Here are some of the tips we’ve learned along the way to help your business achieve export success:
Do your homework and research the market
Research is a vital first step to assess if there is a market for your products. We’ve built relationships with potential overseas clients and suppliers by talking and listening to them about what they needed and how we could best meet those requirements.
Plan your route to market
Establish how you will reach your audience, this may be via overseas partners or direct from the UK. For our business, social media has played a huge part in our export success, enabling us to engage with clients, suppliers and car enthusiasts, and develop direct sales channels to market.
Knowledge is power: understand the rules, requirements and regulations of a new market
Take steps to really understand each target market. We’ve had to get to grips very quickly with different custom requirements. Understanding the rules and regulations from the offset will help you avoid costly delays and headaches later.
For example, we’ve learned when exporting cars to New Zealand that specialist cleaning is required due to strict rules on controlling bio-hazards into the country.
Find a unique way to promote your business to stay ahead of the crowd
You can only create demand for your products if people know you exist, which means thinking about how you will promote your business. Establishing our own racing car team has got audiences overseas to notice us and follow our success online.
Build relationships with your overseas clients
Spend time getting to know people and establishing trust. Appreciate there will be cultural differences and be sensitive to this. We do a lot of business with China and are aware of how important it is to observe Chinese business etiquette to reduce the risk of causing offence or any misunderstandings arising.
Learning a few simple phrases can boost relationships and bridge cultural differences. And free online language tools such as Google Translate also come in very handy!
Stay several steps ahead with new ideas for your business
Overseas customers are no different from UK ones, they want to see new, exciting ideas. Last year, we realised there could be huge potential for developing quality leather trim items and matching luggage for luxury car owners. We invested in a leather workshop, appointed a skilled leather trimmer and now this side of the business is booming with our overseas clients.
Get as much advice and overseas business mentoring as possible
Take advantage of organisations that specialise in supporting overseas trade. The UKTI is a great starting point and UK Export Finance (UKEF) is also a useful resource. Chambers of commerce, banks, lawyers and accountants can also offer good nuggets of advice and support.
British products, services and expertise are in demand across the world, opening up a wealth of lucrative opportunity to trade internationally.
With the government introducing new plans to remove the barriers faced by businesses that traditionally don’t have the expert resources to expand through exporting, British firms are in a better position than ever before to enter new, exciting territories and drive business growth.
This article was written by Henry Williams, managing director of Williams Automobiles, an established family-run luxury car dealership for prestige brands.