There are many advantages to be gained by companies wishing to export and over the past 12 months firms have been encouraged to look overseas to seek out potential opportunities. However, taking on a new market and developing your business abroad can seem an exciting prospect but you must be prepared to help minimise any risk.

There are a range of issues that can trip businesses up such as local legislation and regulations, cultural and language differences, export procedures or competition from other markets. You must do their homework first.

There are 10 key tips a business should take to ensure success overseas:

1) Take control of your export strategy
Make export sales a part of your business strategy and include a plan to develop exports over a five year period. Companies that research an export market thoroughly go in with their eyes open, fully aware of the opportunities and potential pitfalls. If you don't do this, you can keep trying and failing without ever knowing the reasons why.

2) Select markets wisely
Choose the markets yourself - do not have the markets choose you. Agents and distributors that approach your company offering to represent you are acting in their own best interests to expand their businesses not yours. Potential export markets can be plotted on a two dimensional grid allowing you to select those most appropriate to grow your business.

3) Be serious about the market
Plan for a presence in the market not just to find one or two customers. When faced with a potential business development opportunity in a market take the time to investigate the market fully.

4) Develop a market entry strategy
Think about what you are going to have to change in order to be successful in the new market; adapt the product, set a pricing strategy, choose a route to market, position yourself competitively.
Think about what you are going to have to change in order to be successful in the new market

5) Know what you don't know
Undertake marketing research - be very clear about the information you need to find out in order to make the decisions listed above. Appropriate groundwork can reveal the potential size of the market place and determine factors like product pricing, distribution, competition and legislation. Research should play a key role in the decision making process.

6) Do your homework
Leave no stone unturned in your pursuit of knowledge about the market. Visit the Global Trade section of the BCC website for useful information at

7) Visit the Market
Arrange to have meetings with a broad cross section of players in the market place and discuss the way they do things such as finding out about products, selecting a supplier, typical purchasing behaviour and experience with existing suppliers. There are many Government bodies and support organisations that can help you. For instance, the BCC is part of a trusted global network of International and Bilateral Chambers of Commerce. Through matchmaking services, the UK Chamber Network can put you in touch with reliable and credible business contacts anywhere in the world as well point you in the right direction once you are out there.

8) Analyse rationally and objectively
Be strategic and stay in control. Analyse the findings at leisure when you get back to the UK not while you are out there; tempting though it might be, do not make the important decisions about the market until you get home.

9) Communicate effectively
Review how your messages are being communicated to the export world. Read your literature with the eyes of someone where English is a second language - is it easy to understand and to follow? Is your website set up with foreign (even US) key words?

10) Shipping your goods
Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to ensure your goods satisfy the rules of origin and research whether your product requires an export licence and/or a pre shipment inspection report at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) website. Triple check documents for errors before they are sent for authorisation and allow sufficient time for shipments to be cleared before Letters of Credit expire to minimise costs and delivery delays.

For more information on how your business can successfully export, visit the Global Trade section of