Are you focussing on the areas that will really grow your business’s export…or is it just ‘the way we do things around here?’

When many bigger UK businesses start to export and try to grow their operations overseas, they often tend to extend their domestic business model into the new markets.

They can often be guilty of ignoring the difference between running a £multi-million manufacturer and small importer hundreds of miles away, the myriad of cultural and language nuances or the fast growing impact of global e-commerce exploited by savvy consumers which make pricing and margin decisions increasingly complicated.

They then produce strategies and plans based on a ‘HQ knows best mentality’ and not on what really matters to their partners and consumers.

Often any comments from agents, consumers or other people from outside the business are dismissed, because they do not fit in with strategies produced by the Head of Strategic Global Consumer Marketing and Customer-Centric Interaction (or someone else with a similar modest job-title).

And surprise, surprise, the wonderful plans don’t work and those meticulously prepared spreadsheets with a detailed forecast end up looking a bit naïve. Oh, the ‘real world’ can be a cruel place!

So what are you going to do really to grow your export?

Quite simple: Focus on the key areas which make a real difference and execute those brilliantly. Not rocket science, this global growth stuff.

The five steps to grow your export business:

  1. Set up a project group with three people (two internal and one external consultant). The Export Growth Group. They will have priority access to everybody within your business – from CEO to receptionist at your smallest agent. They will have maximum 7 weeks to produce their findings. Two key factors to their success: No politics and egos.

2. Decide on what areas are important factors in growing your export.

3. Start with testing these eight points:

  1. How well do we listen to consumers and channel trends in each market?
  2. Have we got the right partners in each market for what we are trying to achieve?
  3. Do we understand our overseas partners and their business?
  4. How able and agile are we responding to market developments and partner enquiries?
  5. Do we really understand the margin requirements within the supply chain for each market?
  6. Do we price our products in line with our overall proposition, while considering point 5?
  7. Do we make our partners, retailers and consumers love us?
  8. Are our products and NPD based on what the markets and consumers tell us and their wants?   Ask everybody whether these are the eight most important areas and decide. 3.        Assess, honestly, assess how well your business is performing in each of these eight areas. Again, use a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 indicates that your performance is perfect. Ask internally, overseas partners, retailers and others and then the group can make an honest and objective decision.

Use a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the most important area.

  1. Then produce your export growth chart where you combine your findings:

It could look like this:

Criteria            Importance                  Performance                Imp x per                      Total

1 – 10                              1 – 10










Grand total

5. Now you know where to focus on growing your export.