Are you ready for CETA? 4 signs you’re on your way to exporting

According to an article by the Canadian Press, only 4% of Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses are exporting. According to the same article, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association believes “the vast majority of businesses lack the global ambition to take advantage of [the Canada Europe Trade Agreement (CETA)].” I read this story just as the European Parliament ratified CETA and the benefits of exporting to Europe increased dramatically; I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not Central Alberta companies are poised to take advantage of new global opportunities.

How do you know if your company is ready? Exporting may seem like a good idea in the current economic climate (who couldn’t use an extra avenue of income right now?), but not every business is positioned to take advantage of the opportunity. Here are some signs your company is ready for the next step toward international business:

#1 – Your Company has the capacity to add new clients

In the current economic downturn, it’s not surprising if you have room in your schedule to service new customers. However, is you are already telling existing clients you’re absolutely swamped, you may need to build your capacity by hiring new staff, acquiring new equipment, or speeding up production. Scotiabank published an article on their website that outlines some ways to build capacity.

#2 – Your intellectual property is protected

Is your intellectual property registered in Canada? It may surprise you to know that this only protects your IP within Canada, and not necessarily in any export markets. That means if you want to export your product to Europe, you’ll need to do some research about protecting your IP in other countries. Visit this Government of Canada website for information on IP management in preparation for export, or contact us to help you navigate the steps.

#3 – You have high quality promotional and marketing material

Good marketing material is well written, contains quality images, and is printed professionally. Think about investing in translated, localized literature when you’ve identified your target market; “localized” material is even further adapted to your target market, and may include changes to images. It is also a good idea to have electronic versions of your marketing material available to email and loaded on branded USB flash drives (these are convenient to hand out on trade missions). Oh, and you can never have too many business cards! There’s nothing much worse when meeting potential contacts than not having business cards to share.

#4 – Your Company has a positive environment for international expansion

What is a “positive environment for international expansion?” Well, is there a generally positive environment in your workplace? Some things that might get in the way are recent pay cuts or layoffs, or an overworked staff. A company structure that rewards success and encourages innovation is ideal. A multicultural workplace is also a bonus, as your staff can be great practical and cultural resources as you branch into new regions.

What next?

If all signs point to international business, you’re prepared for the next steps toward going global. Maybe you aren’t ticking all of the boxes quite yet; that’s okay too. There are many resources available to help your business grow internationally, from the ground up if necessary.  If you represent a Central Alberta company and are interested in international business, contact Access Prosperity to get the globe rolling.

Pam Steckler,
Investment Attraction Officer
Central Alberta: Access Prosperity