Thursday 21 February 2019

Getting down to the essentials of successful exporting

'One strength of our economy is that a generation of companies has developed which are successfully delivering fantastic products and services to multinationals.' Stock image
'One strength of our economy is that a generation of companies has developed which are successfully delivering fantastic products and services to multinationals.' Stock image

Fergus McMahon

As an island nation with a dynamic open economy, Ireland enjoys exporting success around the world. That success is growing, with more than 215,000 people now employed by companies supported by Enterprise Ireland - a record high.

A new workshop series from Enterprise Ireland, Essentials of Exporting, kicks off this month. The series - run in partnership with the Local Enterprise Office network - is aimed at unearthing the latent potential that could drive even greater exporting success.

Ireland's exporting activity is like a pyramid, at the top of which are large overseas multinational companies with a presence here. Next is the cohort of major Irish multinationals and large locally-based exporters.

It's the tier underneath these, the long tail of progressive Irish SMEs selling excellent products and services mainly, or only, into the domestic market, the workshop is aimed at: Irish companies whose exporting potential is, as yet, untapped.

These companies may have never considered exporting or may be "accidental exporters", trading overseas in an ad hoc way after a request from a multinational customer in Ireland.

One strength of our economy is that a generation of companies has developed which are successfully delivering fantastic products and services to multinationals. The focus for such companies is typically domestic, but if they are to grow they must export. Equally, there are innovative Irish companies which have developed intellectual property for their own purposes with the potential to be spun out, productised and exported. These are the "rough diamonds" of exporting, which the new workshops can help hone. From developing a compelling export value proposition to sales pipeline management in a new market, participants will be walked through the issues they must consider before embarking on their export journey.

The initiative provides senior teams with a framework to put their thoughts on paper in a structured environment. The workshops will help them to identify the practical steps involved, enabling them to establish the foundation of an export plan.

These are not general, informational events. They are active workshops in which participants work on their own business, using tools to help them make informed decisions about export potential.

They are open to top teams, and not just individuals. We know from working with Enterprise Ireland clients further along the export journey just how powerful this format is.

Many barriers can inhibit the diamonds in the rough of the exporting world. Sometimes the biggest barrier is simply being too successful in the domestic market to consider it.

In other cases, those who began exporting due to a request from a domestic client do not usually have the strategy or structure in place to capitalise on the activity.

For others still, it is a fear of the unknown, rooted in a concern about the drain on resources exporting might impose. Essentials of Exporting fills in those nerve-inducing blanks and shows participants how to get the information they need to save them time and money.

The vital pre-training piece enables participants to hit the ground running, getting a better return from limited resources. The workshops develop skills to identify opportunities overseas and the funding supports available to help.

Irish companies are already selling innovative products and services at home. The presence of so many of the world's top multinational companies here has helped us to develop a very strong skills base.

To those non- or barely-exporting companies with a really good product or service and a really good team, our message is simple - join the Essentials of Exporting workshops.

You'll come away with gems, including practical advice in language that's easy to remember, a new way to look at your business, and key tools to help you start your journey to exporting brilliance.

To learn more about Essentials of Exporting, visit enterprise-ireland.com/ExporterDevelopment. Fergus McMahon is Department Manager for Exporter Development at Enterprise Ireland.

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