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8 Reasons for Preparing an Export Plan

| September 7, 2018 | Articles

An export plan is a tool that allows companies to align resources for purposes of selling in external markets. The Inter-American Investment Corporation explains why SMEs should have one in place.

Let’s suppose that you are a manager at a small or medium-sized enterprise and decide that the best course for your company is to start exporting your products. What should you do? What steps should you follow? Where should you start? How should you organize?

According to the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), a good idea is to pick up pen and paper and write down your ideas for outlining an “export plan”, in other words, a tool that will help align the company’s available resources for purposes of selling in external markets.

An export plan consists of a diagram structured in different phases: it starts with an assessment of the company’s potential and areas for improvement (competitive and export skills), followed by an analysis on performance and sector trends and a study on distribution and internationalization strategies.

The next step is to design the plan and implementation method: stipulating general objectives and how they will be achieved and the conditions for closing business transactions.

The reasons

IIC offers 8 reasons why an export plan is a key tool for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) deciding to go international:

  • Written plans help clearly identify the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Having an export plan makes it easier to identify how your company can best position itself in the international market and the challenges it faces ahead.
  • They are easier to communicate and share. Your partners, investors or any other person involved in the success of the business may need a detailed explanation to understand the reasons behind your plan for internationalizing the company. The export plan will clearly display what the company will do, why and how.
  • They are easier to remember by all those in charge of execution. Indications delivered to those involved in the export process will be received more clearly and directly if they are delivered in writing and in a consistent and detailed manner. The export plan will be of great help in this regard.
  • Written plans help visualize and analyze the plan’s deviations and causes. A key skill that all businessmen should have is being able to detect the causes of the company’s problems. Using an export plan will provide the necessary tools to facilitate development of this skill.
  • They assign responsibilities and enable assessing results. If things do not turn out as planned, it is much easier to determine responsibilities if these were previously assigned. Even if the company is operating correctly, you will have sufficient information to understand why things were done and strengthen successful practices.
  • They are essential for seeking financing. No matter how good your ideas are nobody is going to sign a blank check: financiers want to know the details of what is going to happen with their money to ensure a safe transaction. An export plan provides your company with predictability and trust.
  • They offer a clear understanding of what is required from staff and ensure commitment with the export decision and process. The decision to export can generate uncertainty for many employees, even fear, since they will sense unclear changes in the company. An export plan can provide certainty and ease, and involve employees in the challenges ahead.
  • They help customers visualize the company´s strategy, advantages and commitment in the market. If your competitive advantages are clear, your customers will also understand the benefits and will want to be part of them.