Now that you've gathered practical information here on where to turn for help with importing and exporting, you are ready to find out if in fact you can do either or both. What I mean by that is you must assess your business (Is it healthy enough to support an import/export initiative?) and the product you wish to import/export (Is it importable/exportable?).
This part is a dreaded chore -- I’ll be the first to admit! – but when I look back on my early days of going global, had I taken the time to determine whether my business was in the ready-state to go global, I would have minimized mistakes and saved myself and my team a lot of headaches.
Remember when I wrote “Canned Approach To Package Size Doesn’t Always Work?”
Here's a clip on what I said: “In my early days of importing and creating products for export, I've had my share of flops and successes. How else can you get good at what you are doing if you don't experiment a bit?
One lesson I learned early on in my import/export journey: The key is to do your homework.”
For example, answering the following types of questions at the get-go would have put us in a stronger position starting out: Do we have the financial and human capital resources to support our export (import) vision? Is it feasible to export (import) the product we have selected for export (import)? Will we have to make any major changes (investment) to the product to accommodate the foreign market? Once we export (import), what happens if we don’t get paid or we are unable to pay the supplier?
Let’s find out how import/export-ready your business is. Take the Export Readiness Questionnaire (http://export.gov/begin/assessment.asp), or ERQ, which homes in on characteristics common to successful exporters.
Bear in mind that the questionnaire is geared toward exporting but just start the test with importing as a goal and insert “import” at every export question to determine if you are ready to import as well. Once you complete it, you will receive a score, as well as an identification of areas your business needs to strengthen to improve its export (import) activities. The ERQ also provides suggestions on where to turn for guidance to improve your score and start exporting (importing)!
If you score 100, you’ll see:
Your Score is: 100
91-100: You are ready to export
If you need help, your results may look like this:
Your Score is: 6
0-20: You are on the right track, but you have a long way to go.
Either way, you must face the music and get to work on the import/export front. After you receive your score, and I am hopeful it’s in the 91-100 area, re-read “How to Start An Import/Export Business” for tips on making it happen. If, per chance, your score is in the 0-20 area, take the time to go through all the articles on this site to familiarize yourself on what you need to do next.
Should you run out of steam or need motivation to keep moving forward, there’s always, “Fourteen Incentives for Importing/Exporting,” which covers all the benefits to going global.
Here are some:
- Increasing your sales.
- Enhancing your image in the world marketplace.
- Generating economies of scale in production.
- Raising your profitability.
- Broadening your own intellectual horizons.
- Exploring previously untapped markets.
- Selling excess domestic capacity.
- Insulating seasonal domestic sales by finding new foreign markets.
- Outmaneuvering competitors.
- Improving your return on investments.
- Creating jobs.
- Enriching our country.
- Traveling to places you've never been before.
- The “cool” factor (“hey, I’m global!”).
The trick is to stay focused on accurate and relevant activities that support your import/export vision. You can do it!