Many entrepreneurs strive for sales growth and security in their business. If your business plan doesn’t include exporting as a way to increase sales and diversify your market, you may want to consider incorporating it. Exporting is often overlooked as a viable option for small businesses due to common misconceptions. However, it can actually be a smart investment for your company’s future. That’s why we’re here today to address some of the doubts small business owners have about how to export from B.C. It’s more attainable than you might think!

Myth #1: My business is too small for exporting overseas

B.C. company Sea Spring Island Sea Salt, the only salt company in the world to offer a unique line of premium infused fleur de sel products.

There are a lot of benefits to exporting, but one major concern small businesses have is they do not have the capacity to export. The good news is, you don’t have to jump into exporting overseas right away, or at all. Selling to our neighbours in Alberta or in the United States from British Columbia (B.C.) counts as exporting too! Plus, doing so can grow your revenue and business over time. It’s always a good idea to diversify your market to protect your business from variables like local demand or foreign competition.

Size is no impediment to the exporting process. In fact, many solopreneurs are successful in the export field. As a small business, you can use your size as an advantage to appeal to a broader customer base. If you think your product is unique and special, chances are, other people think so too. Use that opportunity to market your goods as ‘specialty’ or ‘exclusive’. Another possibility for small business export growth is to start by entering a local supply-chain in B.C. This allows you to export as suppliers to larger exporters.

To fully explore all the paths you could go down, Export Navigator is a great starting point for beginners. The program connects small businesses in B.C. with an experienced export advisor, your personal guide to everything export-related. Your export advisor can help you develop a realistic market strategy, expand your business, and eventually, expand your market.

Myth #2: I don’t need to export

Many local businesses decide to stay local because they believe it doesn’t make sense for them to export. In some cases, that is true—for instance, exporting may not work for a hair salon or a restaurant. But more often than not, people are unaware of their business’s exporting potential. This is especially true if they are in a sector that is export-capable, such as local manufacturing, technology, and even tourism. Like tourism, some services may also qualify as exports. If the service has customers from outside B.C., this could make the business eligible for various exporting programs, services, or funding.

With the prominence of the Internet in all aspects of our lives, the number of customers opting to shop online only continues to grow. This presents a golden opportunity to grow profits that small businesses should pay attention to. While your traditional brick-and-mortar store isn’t likely to disappear any time soon, e-commerce is another increasingly popular avenue for potential sales growth.

Even though the retail landscape in B.C. continues evolving to accommodate online shopping trends, almost half of Canadian small businesses still don’t have a website. Having a high-quality website that’s easy to navigate is an invaluable tool for customers who want to learn more about a business. Establishing a strong social media presence is another great way to engage with and grow your customer base. One Export Navigator client, Rip’s Cleats, was able to increase revenue by an impressive 84% after starting an e-commerce site. Doing business online expanded their market to include customers from all over North America.

Myth #3: There is no export support and service that suits my needs 

Export advisor Michael Hoher working with founder of Popov Leather

There are so many facets to exporting: targeting export awareness and growth planning, skill development, opportunity identification, market entry, and more. This can make  it difficult for business owners to find the right fit for exporting services and support. Although a one-stop shop for every single exporting service doesn’t exist, Export Navigator can help assess your business and connect you with the right resources.

In addition, check out export support services from trusted organizations such as Small Business B.C., B.C. Food & Beverage, Women’s Enterprise Centre and local economic development offices. There are also federal and provincial supports available, like Export Navigator and Trade and Invest B.C.

Learn more

Still have questions about exporting? Talk with an export advisor and learn more about how to export today. Export Navigator is unique because it is the only program in B.C. that offers free expert guidance through every step of the way. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get tailored advice and information for your business!