As a small business in the service sector, we had no long-term plans of exporting but found ourselves reactively exporting. Basically, we were responding to international enquiries, but we’d never been intentionally chasing them. Here’s what we learnt over our exporting journey!
Help is out there
Our real exporting journey kicked off when we attended an event run by the Department for International Trade. We then reached out to them for further advice, and they were able to spend time with us to get to grips with our business and provide us with actionable hints and tips. For example, they advised us on the best markets to enter first and the best approach to take to drive exports more proactively. One thing they recommended was how to dip our toes into the water without having to dive headfirst into an expensive large-scale marketing campaign – for example, testing out Google Adwords across a few keywords in specific countries.
It’s all about the Money
We had always assumed exporting would involve a lot of work and were nervous about the commitment. What we actually learnt was that if you are realistic and take a phased approach it is do-able on a gradual way, without requiring a huge outlay from the start. A helpful piece of advice we learned was to look at the immediate actions we could take, for example changing our website hosting from the ‘.co.uk’ domain to the ‘.com’ domain, which increased our international traffic straightaway! As a result, we already have our first export win!
This relates closely to the last point on cost. The DIT reminded us to keep our approach achievable for our business and its goals. So, changing the domain of our website and testing out some Google AdWords campaigns were quick actions we could take to see if it was for us. A longer-term consideration for us is website translation or country-specific micro-sites, but this is an action they suggested for future thought once we are more established, rather than implementing immediately.
Exporting doesn’t have to be something scary and seemingly out of reach, we’re an example of how it can be done gradually and on a smaller scale. You don’t always have to be a global brand to enter a new international market and make a success of it! So, don’t hesitate to contact the DIT to see what steps may be relevant for you and your own exporting journey.