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Is Your Company Export Ready?

More In Thinking About Exporting

Determining whether you are ready to enter the international business arena requires both an examination of your commitment in terms of resources as well as your ability to compete with international competition.

Evaluating your Export Potential

There are a few relatively simple exercises you can take to determine if your firm is export ready. These do not require a large commitment of time or resources but are worthwhile exercises.

SWOT Analysis

The first is the SWOT Analsysi. This acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  

Analysing your strengths and weaknesses requires you to have a hard look at what your company does well and what it does not do very well. This not only highlights the strengths you can use to give you a competitive advantage in the international market(s) you choose to enter, but can also highlight  the changes or improvements your can make to your business to limit or eliminate your weaknesses. 

Opportunities and threats are the forces external to your company that may influence it’s performance or perception. For example government legislation could open potential opportunities for your business but may also be a threat if the politics in the region are unstable. Threats can also include competitors entering the same market or residents of the country mistrusting North American products.

Competitor Analysis

After determining your organizations own strengths and weaknesses, it is necessary to evaluate your future competition in the new market. Knowing your own value proposition as well as your competitors can lead to a successful market entry. Entering in a highly competitive market with seasoned competitors, who have deep pockets and high levels of customer loyalty can result in failure, even if you have a superior product. As a new entrant to an unfamiliar market, a competitor’s strengths and weaknesses should be identified and understood. 

Developing your competitor analysis requires a significant amount of market research, using both primary and secondary sources.  When conducting your research it is important that you go beyond just strengths and weaknesses. Your research must also identify:

  1. How they manage/ make decisions.
  2. Who the key personnel are and what are their drivers.
  3. What the company’s overall objective is for both their business and their individual products.
  4. How satisfied they are with their present position in the market.
  5. The changes in that position they are likely to take and how can you threaten their current position.
  6. Where they currently conduct business and any known expansion plans.
  7. Their investment history, both giving and receiving.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking or competency analysis is an evaluation process designed to determine your own company’s capabilities against competitors.  The analysis evaluates marketing, finance, manufacturing and organizational functionalities to determine a weak or strong position against your competitors. 

After completing a competitor analysis, swot analysis and benchmarking the next steps are to develop a market entry strategy and a market plan.  

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