Dear Aunty B,
I have nice niche business with revenue of a few million and about 18 staff, but I find my revenue growth has been flatlining. Should I make the big decision to export?
Brian N, Brisbane
Brian, bad news. You have no choice. Niche businesses in Australia do start flatlining when they reach your size because there is not the population to sustain a larger business. (Why do Australians lack the “understanding demographics” gene? Anyone?)
And do you know what Brian? It is not such a big decision. Many successful exporters tell us they “fell” into exporting and then found it was easier than they thought. Many fail too, but that’s for another day.
Think back Brian. Have you been presented with an export opportunity that you ignored at the time? How about grilling all your ex-pat friends about their contacts and networks.
First step is to get online and explore possible markets. Get online, pester Austrade and trade groups for research data. Read case studies of other companies that have succeeded in those markets.
Draw up a quick export plan (again use the Federal Government field officers or your local chamber such as VECCI. State governments also have some great export programs).
Identify five possible markets, find a distributor, set up a few weeks of appointments and get on a plane. Meet real estate agents, recruiters, potential customers, suppliers, trade officials – and any other Aussies in business who will spare you five minutes in Starbucks.
In the evenings, skip the tourist shows and hang out in bars where foreign executives congregate. (You will find a list of bars in the newspapers or online sites for foreigners.) Now normally you would want to avoid such haunts, but they can be goldmines for newcomers as they are full of bored, jaded executives keen to show off their local knowledge.
You might luck on to some competitor intelligence or simply pick up some cultural knowledge.
You will come back with eyes opened, horizons widened, and if nothing else some critical knowledge such as the potency of the local brew.
Yours in export,
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