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Show and Tell: How do you tackle exporting to new markets?

New Zealand has fewer than five million people. Let’s just be honest: that’s a pretty limited market, especially considering there are more than seven billion people alive in the world today. Want to grow your business? You know what to do: export.

We all know the answer to making more money for your business or to successfully commercialise your idea is to export. But given the mind-boggling number of complex rules and regulations surrounding trade between each of the nearly 200 nations on Earth, let’s also cut right to the chase: it’s paralysingly daunting.

Wine Grenade co-founder Jonathan Boswell can relate. “There’s 7.7 billion litres of wine that needs to be matured every year,” he says. “But most of it is not in New Zealand. So, we knew we were going to need a global strategy from day one. And that meant we were really going to have to think about distribution channels and how we were going to get into those markets. That was always going to be the biggest challenge – finding the right distribution channels.”

Springfree Trampoline managing director Doug Hill says in order to find those new markets, there’s one “building block” that helps to make it possible. “Sales is always the hardest thing in terms of building your channels,” he says. “We were forced very early to find some low-cost manufacturers that weren’t available locally. We had to get into an Asian manufacturing slot, and that’s a real hard nut to crack.”

ecostore managing director Pablo Kraus says it’s important to maintain the highest possible standards, no matter what market you go into. “Having such a large range of products from cleaning to laundry to personal care, some of our struggles in China were in personal care due to animal testing (animal testing is required when selling in China),” he says. “So I’d say one of the biggest challenges is having a high standard and sticking to it.”

But he says there’s another important thing, perhaps the most important of all: getting to know your customers and partners.

“A lot of people want to order our products, but you don’t want to rush,” Kraus says. “It’s about getting to know them. You really can’t beat going into the market and meeting people. It’s all about building that trust up so you know you’ve got a partner on the ground. And you have to continue building that relationship. You can’t go once. Keep going back.”

Wine Grenade’s Boswell agrees. “Understanding the market and spending time in the markets early so that you can build relationships is really important,” he says. “Get to know the people who are there, get to know the industry, and recognise that it takes time to build those relationships. Things don’t happen quickly when you’re moving into a new market. You have to spend time there.”

Springfree Trampoline’s Hill says relationships are incredibly important and take time. It’s important to understand the rules and regulations within the market you plan on going into. “If you’ve got unique product attributes, make sure that the markets you’re going into aren’t going to create any unexpected problems around that,” he says.”

Forging strong relationships, understanding the market, and having high standards – important things to do no matter where you plan on taking your business.

Although these three innovators come from very different backgrounds and have very different businesses, they share many of the same traits. To watch the video, download your FREE booklet and get our Innovation Heroes’ ‘Top Tips’ go to innovationcouncil.org.nz.

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