So, you’ve read about the challenges and opportunities of exporting and know all about exporting as a growth strategy. You’ve also learned about the stages of exporting and are aware of what it entails. That brings us to the next step: your export readiness assessment.

Export Navigator outlines four categories that can help determine this: personal self-assessment, general export readiness, sales within B.C., and product or service assessment. The questions in these categories can provide insight on where you are in your export journey and help identify areas where you might need additional support. 

Personal self-assessment

Why do you want to sell outside of B.C.? Maybe you want to meet demand for your product or service elsewhere. Or, you might not even have a clear answer yet and just want to learn more, which is fine. 

Your personal self-assessment not only includes yourself, but your team as well. There are more responsibilities that come with exporting, and it’s important to make sure that everyone is on board. 

Answer the following questions to evaluate how you and your team feel about exporting: 

  • Are you or key employees willing to adjust to a potentially unfamiliar business culture?
  • Are you willing to make the time and financial commitment?
  • Do you have approval from management and other stakeholders to pursue exporting?

Business assessment: export readiness

Once you and your team have decided to start exporting, then the next thing to assess is your business. The following questions will help you figure out what you need to prepare before exporting:

  • Does your business plan include exporting?
  • Do you have target markets in mind? 
  • Do you have experience with selling outside of B.C.?
  • Are you familiar with export service providers and requirements?

You’ll eventually need more resources to help expand your business, which include hiring, production, marketing, and so on. Incorporating these factors in your plan makes it easier to accurately gauge your business’ capacity to export.  

There are a lot of associated costs with exporting. For instance, you might want to consider insurance for shipping losses, non-paying foreign customers and contract cancellations. You’ll also need to travel to your target market to do business, and attend trade shows or meetings outside of B.C.

Business assessment: sales within B.C.

The third step is to take a closer look at your existing market and finances before identifying a new target market. What are the demographics of your customers and who are your competitors? Compare and contrast your domestic market with your new target market, and determine what you need to change in order to tap into your new market.

Be prepared to adapt. The demographic your business normally caters to in B.C. may vary from market to market. Use these questions to assess your sales within B.C.:

  • Are your sales in B.C. declining, staying steady, growing steadily, or growing very rapidly?
  • How diversified are your sales in B.C.?
  • If you sell online, what are your top 3 online markets?

Product or service assessment

Last but not least, it’s time to assess your product or service. Some markets are more feasible to enter than others, so it is wise to narrow down your choices. Depending on your new market and your industry, there could be restrictions and regulations that differ from B.C.’s. 

For example, in manufacturing, production lines must produce in the metric system to meet European Union standards. If you want to export food, pharmaceutical, or cosmetic products to the United States, it has to first be recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To help determine if your product or service is ready to export, answer the following questions:

  • Does your business comply with the regulations of your new target market? If not, can you easily bridge the gap? 
  • Does your product or service require any type of certification? Is it recognized internationally?
  • Are you willing or able to modify your product or service to sell into another market?

Making the most of your export readiness assessment

This export readiness checklist is meant to provide you with an example of things to look for before you commit to exporting. However, it is not an exhaustive list. For a more in-depth checklist, talk to an export advisor for a free consultation. 

Keep in mind that becoming export ready is a long process – patience is key! Your advisor can help assess your needs and get you on track to meet your goals.