Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or large corporation, exporting should be an essential part of your business plan. With 95 percent of the world population and 75 percent of the purchasing power located outside the borders of the United States, selling your products internationally just makes sense. It also gives you a strategic advantage over competition that doesn’t export.
So, why don’t more businesses export? Many aren’t ready. Some don’t realize they can turn a profit in another market. No matter the reason, businesses that don’t export are potentially leaving money on the table, which affects their bottom line and the local economy. West Virginia University and Marshall University hope to change that by offering an export management class that helps businesses assess their prospects on the global market, create a marketing plan and hopefully create new flows of income that helps West Virginia’s economy.
The learning curve.
A successful business isn’t created overnight. It takes time — sometimes years of trial and error — to get it right. Along the way, you figure out what does and doesn’t work and learn all kinds of rules, regulations and best practices. All that knowledge helps you get started, but what happens if an overseas buyer defaults on a payment? What if your shipping forwarder fails to deliver your product to a customer in another country? How do you make sure you don’t violate trade policies? You can prepare for those scenarios, but problems like that keep people from exporting.
The export management class at WVU and Marshall will help.
“There’s three reasons people don’t export and we address every one of them in the class,” said Annie Cui, an associate professor of marketing in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University who teaches the export management class.
Cui says businesses pass on exporting because there is a lack of resources and connections and that the potential for legal risks is too high. Whether those problems are real or perceived, they shouldn’t hold you back from realizing your profit potential in exports. Education and planning is key.
The world is waiting on your product. Export it.
“If your product is good, it’s useful as much for someone in the United States as it is in Germany, Kazakhstan or France,” said Uyi Lawani, an assistant professor of strategic management at the Brad D. Smith School of Business at Marshall University who also teaches the export management class. “You may not realize it, but your product is ready. Don’t hold back. Export it. You’d be surprised how easy it is to sell things online. There aren’t as many impediments to international sales as there used to be.”
The export management class is designed to promote exporting in West Virginia, the course helps businesses assess their export readiness skills by pairing them with masters-level students who develop an export marketing plan based on specific needs and goals.
“This is a great introduction to the world of exporting,” said Lord Walker, global loadout sales manager at Kanawha Scales and Systems and vice-chair of the West Virginia District Export Council. “I went through the class in 2016 and it helped me learn how to identify potential markets that are potentially profitable. It’s a low-cost, high-value way to train an employee on exporting.”
The classes, offered at WVU in Morgantown and Marshall in Huntington over five weekend sessions, start in January 2020. During the first week, companies that participate in the class give an overview of export challenges and companies they’d like to target. During the remaining weekends, students work in teams to evaluate potential buyers in target markets and break down logistics and cultural barriers, as well as legal and financial issues. At the end of the class, each business gets an export marketing plan and financial analysis that gives an initial investment and profit forecast.
“No company can afford not to export,” Walker said. “This class helps you get started or explore your options in new markets. It’s a win-win.”
Businesses are invited to participate in the class by sending a representative to go through the five-week course. Businesses also can volunteer to be analyzed by students. Distance learning options also are available through video conferencing.
“It’s open to any business, big or small,” said Cui. “The class is unique because it brings people and businesses from all walks of life to support your company.”
The class starts at WVU on Jan. 12. For more information, contact professor Annie Cui at 304-293-6657 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The class at Marshall starts on Jan. 19. For more information, contact professor Uyi Lawani at 304-696-5441 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
For more exporting resources, visit www.westvirginia.gov.