Business planning, Growth, Management, Sales and marketing

Five key steps to start exporting overseas

Oliver Milman /

feature-crates-thumbAustralian small businesses generally like to keep things local, it seems, if we are to judge the state of play from SmartCompany’s recent Smart50 Awards.


The annual rundown of the fastest growing SMEs in the land showed that just 11 of the top 50 export their goods or services overseas.


This lack of international vision is something that start-ups would be unwise to follow. A report out last month by the Boston Consulting Group showed that Australian businesses not in the mining sector could earn a mammoth $126 billion by 2021 if they shifted their focus to the burgeoning Asian export market.


So how can you get started on the exporting trail? Craig Ford, director of flourishing international trade advisory firm My Import Label, says that it can be done relatively rapidly.


“While strategic exporting should only be considered after your business has developed a strong customer following in your home market, provided you have a suitable online store, you can start marketing to, and taking export orders from your first day of business,” he says.


Here are Ford’s five key steps to get your export operation up and running:



1. Check your online eCommerce store has exporting capability


Specifically look for:

  • Automated international delivery calculation; and
  • Activate/deactivate select countries. We do recommend you activate some countries, and deactivate countries that are known scammer locations, to avoid suspect transactions.


2. Look first at your neighbouring markets


For the Australian eastern seaboard (Queensland down to Tasmania), you should be looking at New Zealand from day one.


New Zealand is closer than Western Australia so parcel delivery will be quick and there should be minimal, if any product adaptations for the market.


So when planning your online store and digital marketing strategies, consider reserving your domain in that country (for New Zealand it’s a domain), and consider local online advertising in the market.


Also check your marketing messages; just because Australia/New Zealand are close neighbours it does not mean your advertising will work as well there, so consider local trends.


While it may not be necessary to register a business in that country, it can help facilitate market access by observing local practices for your product market.




We Recommend