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Looking beyond our shores as a small business

Australia’s continued economic relationship with China is showing little sign of slowing down[1], with the country – our biggest trading partner – investing in Australia at a level not seen since before the global financial crisis.

There are, undoubtedly, valuable export opportunities for Australia’s small business sector not only in China but also in the United Kingdom, the United States and Malaysia (to name a few overseas partners). However, for some small businesses, the perception can be that the export market is difficult to access and full of obstacles. So, how can your business benefit from export opportunities?

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

As part of your export strategy, you must, as a first step, conduct significant research into the country you want to establish export opportunities within. There are numerous established business networks within Australia that can be utilised to help you to decipher whether in fact exporting into a selected country makes good business sense.

Austrade’s TradeStart has been established to support small businesses by providing local assistance and access to its own extended network resources. Additionally, a field visit to establish personal relations with potential export partners is essential as part of your research, partially negating the risk factors that must be identified before proceeding with your plan.

CREATE A TANGIBLE MARKETING PLAN

After completing your homework, you may be ready to create a marketing plan. It is imperative that you assess the cultural differences of the country you are planning to do business in. A sound export strategy will help you in dealing with new customers, financial advisers and government agencies. It will ensure you grow within your capability – and not stretch resources. Set identifiable and quantifiable goals that you would like to achieve.

Making the decision to export is a large one for any small business. Whilst working with customers overseas could give a huge opportunity for growth, you should identify the costs you will incur, such as cross-border delivery and overseas bureaucratic measures such as fees and taxes.

SEEK FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Beyond the aforementioned business networks, there is invaluable support available from the government. Export Market Development Grants will help small businesses get their products exported internationally quicker.  The grants assist businesses seeking export markets for their goods, services, intellectual property and know-how by reimbursing a portion of their eligible export promotion expenditure.

Additionally, a small business loan may help a business look beyond Australian shores. EficDirect is an online portal which allows businesses with an annual turnover of up to $10 million to apply for small working capital loans to fund their exports. If successful, funds are available in as few as nine business days. The maximum loan size is $350,000 and tangible assets (such as property) are not required for security.

THE DEBRIEF

Making the decision to export as a small business can be a daunting one, but there is considerable help available to help you realise your goal. Further information about the measures that may be available for your business can be found here https://www.business.gov.au/smallbusiness.


About the author

Kate Carnell is the inaugural Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO)

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-01/chinese-investment-in-australia-at-highest-point-since-gfc/8485828

Attribution: Looking beyond our shores as a small business