The supports for Irish firms with global visions
More and more Irish companies are looking to exports for growth, and those that are exporting have achieved considerable success over the past 10 years. In 2018, exports by Enterprise Ireland clients reached just under €24bn, a new record.
Last year, 84pc of our clients said they were planning global strategies and had ambitions to increase their export footprint, with the eurozone being their number one market. This is in line with our eurozone strategy, which has the objective of increasing exports by 50pc to the area by 2020.
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Clearly, a lot of companies are doing it right, but more should consider exporting, particularly against the backdrop of Brexit. Our strategic focus predominately remains on sustaining and building exports in the UK.
After all, Britain continues to be the largest export market for many of our client companies. Indeed, even if a deal on Brexit is reached, the benefits of market diversification in terms of reducing exposure to particular customers and economies make exporting attractive.
And the eurozone is particularly appealing in this regard. Currency volatility has been creating problems for exporters to the UK for many years, but when viewed through the lens of currency, the eurozone, one of the world's most dynamic, prosperous and stable markets, is on our doorstep.
Enterprise Ireland's International Sales and Partnering Division has a network of 39 overseas offices whose remit is to work with companies as they move through the five stages of exporting:
Market validation: Be aware of the markets to consider and choose the best market for your business offering based on research and the resources available. Do you have the right product or service offering, or does this need to be modified for the market in question?
Market entry: Identify your route to market and the sales process necessary to generate interest, secure customers and deliver.
Review your existing supply chain: Check if your business relies on products or services that are certified for compliance with EU standards, and reinforce your supply chain through partners, direct sales or distributors.
In-market resources: Determine the people and skills required in terms of language capabilities, cultural knowledge, and sales and marketing skills.
Start selling: This is the sharp end of commercialisation. Now that you have the building blocks in place, start to grow and scale your business internationally to establish a market presence, through lead generation, marketing, attending industry events and building relationships.
While geography is becoming less important for many companies, the fact remains that for those who either haven't yet begun to export or who feel over-exposed to the UK market, the eurozone offers a natural starting point. Enterprise Ireland has developed a unique eurozone management development programme, 'Enter the eurozone'. This is an intensive programme of workshops, one-to-ones, and market entry planning to help build an in-market itinerary for entering a specific eurozone market.
In addition, the Gradstart - Language programme offers salary support for the recruitment of graduates with language fluency.
Where a company has a requirement for a graduate with language proficiency, Enterprise Ireland will provide financial support for up to three graduates at any one time.
The Market Discovery Fund is open to companies of all sizes based in Ireland. It is designed to help them grow their business and can be used for areas such as research and validating new markets, developing market entry strategies, reviewing the competitive landscape or new supplier research.
The Enterprise Ireland Market Research Centre provides client companies with access to world-class market intelligence in the form of the company, sector, market and country information needed to explore opportunities and compete.
Looking further afield, the Asia-Pacific region is going to be the main driver of global growth over the next 20 years and it presents huge opportunities for Irish firms which can establish a niche there. Many Irish companies are looking beyond geography when selling to Asia and other overseas markets and are targeting sectors instead.
For example, Irish firms with deep telecommunications sector expertise are selling to mobile operators around the world, and Asia is just another geography for them.
Fintech companies are also agnostic when it comes to geography - it doesn't matter to them if the bank they are selling to is located in London, New York or Shanghai.
Meanwhile, North America has traditionally been a strong market for the sale of goods and services in technology, while the Middle East, Africa and India present significant opportunities for businesses operating in industrial manufacturing and services.
To learn more about how we can help your company on its internationalisation and market diversification journey visit our web page GlobalAmbition.ie
Leo McAdams is Enterprise Ireland divisional manager for International Sales and Partnering
Sunday Indo Business