Case studies, fact sheets and interviews offering hints, tips, and inspiration to help your business grow. 

From 7 May 2024, the North East Growth Hub is a project of the North East Combined Authority. We may still refer to "the North East Local Enterprise Partnership" (or "the North East LEP") in some of our older articles. 

Top tips from Department for Business and Trade on how to create an export plan

We spoke to the some of the advisers at the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) - formally Department for International Trade - for their top tips on developing an export plan.

If you’re new to exporting, this helpful checklist will provide you with all the information you need to map out and begin your exporting journey. If you’d like any additional help and support, please visit the Markets Toolkit, or you can book an appointment to speak to one of our advisers.

1. What are your objectives?

It’s important to think about what you want to achieve through exporting. Does it fit with your future goals and ambitions for your business?

2. Do your research

Don’t waste time and money on the wrong markets or the wrong approach. This can be the difference between success and failure. Select a few markets or a region to investigate thoroughly, using sales forecasts and market research.
3. Get your offer right

What makes you different and appealing to overseas customers? What’s your unique selling point that sets you apart from your competitors? Do you need to make any changes to your product/service before you go to market, and is your business ready to meet an uplift in demand?
4. Understand your competitors

Find out what your competitors are doing in international markets – then aim to do it better!
5. It’s good to talk

Lots of people suffer from email fatigue, and important correspondence can get often get lost in overwhelmed inboxes. Don’t be frightened to pick up the phone and speak to someone; you’ll likely get a faster response.
6. Plan in a visit

Visiting international markets and meeting potential customers in-person really demonstrates you’re committed to your exporting journey.  It’s always a good idea to plan your visit around a relevant trade show and/or conference as this gives you the chance to meet more relevant people you could work with.
7. Clear branding and communications activity

Create marketing materials, social media content, and other forms of communications content that are easy to understand and respect cultural norms. Ask DBT advisers if you should translate your materials; English isn’t everyone’s first language and translating your content can show respect and have more impact. It’s good to invest in a proper translation service too, rather than using free online tools that might get things wrong.
8. Costs and pricing

Consider what additional costs your business might experience by selling to overseas markets – for example, freight charges, and import duties and taxes. This will help you decide on a target price in your chosen market.
9. How will you sell your product/service?

Are you planning to sell directly to consumers, or perhaps via retailers/wholesalers? The route you decide will have an impact on your approach in-market.
10. Take your time

It can be easy to get carried away and accept the first deal that’s offered to you. Take your time, do your homework, and it will make things a lot easier in the long run. Use the same level of diligence and detail you would for a UK deal.

Remember, there is lots of help available for businesses looking to trade in European and international markets. If you’d like to speak to someone about your export plans you can book a free appointment with a North East Growth Hub adviser who will signpost you to the right support for your business.