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This is part 5 in a series of 12 step-by-step guide to help you succeed in today's global export market.


What is an Export Plan?

An export plan is your guideline for the development of your international business. It consists of the identification of markets, goals, activities, proposed ways of achieving objectives, required resources and expected results.

What is Involved in Developing an Export Plan?

Developing an export plan involves performing a variety of tasks including conducting market research, creating a marketing plan, deciding on market entry and service delivery methods, planning day-to-day operations and potential expansion activities, addressing the issues of export financing and insurance and setting targets and timelines.

Approaches to Developing an Export Plan

Export plans vary from company to company, service offering to service offering and country to country, particular those dealing with the export of services. The following is intended to serve as an outline of approaches that you may take towards creating a document that will guide you in your international business development activities.

State Objectives, Plan Approach and Assign Responsibility

    a) State your export objectives, document your motivation for exporting and include expected outcomes.

    b) Plan your approach by holding discussions and reaching consensual agreement on the export planning approach with key members of your firm.

    c) Assign responsibility for implementation, orient key personnel to the export planning process and determine whether to use a team approach, or to bring in an export management consultant.

Conduct Situation Analysis

To conduct a situation analysis, you may wish to address the following topics:

    a) Background
    • History and present situation of the firm
    • Industry trends
    • Position within the industry
    • Position within domestic and/or international market

    b) Mission Statement
    • What business is the firm in?
    • What market/customers this company serves now and wishes to serve in the future?
    • What are the needs that this company intends to fill in the international marketplace?
    • How does this company meet the needs of those it serves and what is its future vision?
    • What makes this company unique?
    • What values does this company seek to promote?

    c) Market Opportunities and Threats Analysis (as regards the target market)
    • Sources of funding and support
    • Political issues (tax, regulation, policy)
    • Demographics
    • Technology
    • Competition

    d) Strengths and Weaknesses Review (firm’s potential for success in the target market)
    • Assessment of services strengths
    • Assessment of market-specific strengths
    • Financial resources of the firm
    • Human resources (staff and management/knowledge and skills)
    • Marketing and public relations
    • Service product delivery
    • Management policies and practices

Rank Critical Success Factors and Issues

Critical success factors and issues, some of which will be revealed during the situation analysis, should be ranked in order of importance. As a general rule, the list should contain a maximum of twelve issues. Once the critical success factors and issues are prioritized, search for options for dealing with each as this will be a crucial element of your international business development strategy. You may wish to seek help from a variety of sources such as:

  • staff within your firm
  • government officials
  • trade consultants
  • relevant associations
  • seasoned exporters
  • staff of foreign embassies

Questions Answered by the Export Plan

As you move towards developing the Export Plan, keep in mind that its contents should be able to provide answers to the following type of questions:

    a) Where do you want to export ?

    b) Why do you want to export to the markets you chose ?

    c) What do you want to export ?

    d) How much business you expect to do in what period of time ?

    e) How are you going to go about exporting, or what activities do you intend to perform ?

    f) What are the:

    • staffing requirements and responsibilities
    • financial requirements
    • facilities requirements
    • marketing requirements
    • specific tasks or objectives to be accomplished
    • who is responsible
    • time-frame for accomplishing the task
    • resources required for completion
    • revenue projections based on goals and objectives
    • expenses including human resources, marketing and promotion, travel, communications, office and contingency costs
    • profit projections and margins

Drafting the Export Plan

Once you have performed many of the activities in the previous sections, you are ready to draft your Export Plan as per the outline in the Export Plan icon in this module.

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