Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Debunking the great export market myth

Thinking of selling abroad? It's not as hard as you might believe. Ron Immink explains how experts taking part in our Business Live sessions can help you crack it overseas

An event on exporting and capturing opportunities abroad shouldn't really create such a stir, should it? Our Belfast Business Live event (the first of 14) featured on BBC and UTV as well as radio, the newspapers, and widely online. People were clamouring to attend. Is exporting really that big a deal?

This is a point we are trying to make with the Business Live events. We're delighted with the attention and interest, as exporting is very important.

But it isn't as mysterious and difficult as many think. It is and it should be just a normal part of doing business for many, many companies.

The people we had on the panel illustrated that. Michael Jenkins of Up and Running, who by now is a Smallbusinesscan panel veteran, and who will feature on our Newry panel tonight, was one.

Tony Convery of CDE global, Kate Marshall of MastIreland and Denis Kelly of urbanpup.com all also shared their war stories and outlined how they exploit opportunities outside Northern Ireland.

Tony, Michael, Kate and Denis are mortal like you and I.

They decided they wanted to grow their business and they went out and did it.

And they are doing it well. No big deal. And you can benefit from their experience.

Here are some of the lessons: It is not as difficult as you might think it is.

Technology enables everybody to sell abroad.

Every product or service can be sold on the internet.

Consider a 'white label' approach to your web strategy (check out www.urbanpup.com). Hire locals in other countries. This has been mentioned at all our events. Hire locals who understand the market and the culture.

Consider the personal sacrifices you will have to make before you decide to export. You cannot do this half-heartedly.

Look at your payment conditions, but getting paid is not as big an issue as you might think it is. Four websites can give you access to 98m potential clients (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn). Language skills are important.

Follow the market indicators relevant to your sector - there are always countries growing. If you are on the net, make sure that you use your own servers, as virtual servers are dangerous.

If you visit www.smallbusinesscan.com and on our Twitter channel @SmallBC you can follow and read up on the lessons from our other sessions.

But nothing beats being there and hearing it from the horse's mouth, combined with the opportunity to meet, greet and eat.

Yesterday we were in Ballymena. Tonight we are in Newry. It's not too late to register. Hopefully, see you there.

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