How to Be an Export Leader? Tips From Top Canadian Companies

Canadian businesses are at the forefront of some industries, yet there aren’t enough businesses pursuing opportunities in international markets. Why don’t Canadian companies head out to capture foreign shores and their customers? Experts feel that many factors prevent Canadian businesses from expanding into foreign markets and becoming more export-oriented. The lack of information and language barriers can be some of the main reasons apart from other reasons that have led successful companies to remain in their own land.

According to a PROFIT 500 guide survey, only around 40 per cent of companies had zero export revenue, which means that only a few businesses rely on export revenue as the main income source. This shows that Canadian companies are still hesitant to take their businesses across seas and make new customers in foreign markets.

Here are some insights from some of the entrepreneurs surveyed as part of the PROFIT 500 survey in which they reveal tips and challenges for pursuing export markets as Canadian businesses:

Export Tips

  • “We hire local sales representatives that have an understanding of the foreign market and work with local dealers to gain an understanding of the ideal market channels to use”
    —Creative At Home, Rod Gray, CEO
  • “We set up sales offices in strategic locations across the world and introduced our products to end-users and distributors.”
    —Fred Atiq, Chairman, MOST Oil
  • “We travel a lot overseas to meet face to face with customers.  You get a lot more information and most importantly build a relationship and TRUST.  This day and age, many people just send instant messages with customers, and that personal touch and relationship is starting to lack.”
    —DG Global, Dwight Gerling, CEO
  • “We spend a lot of time visiting both customers and representatives in our export markets.  This has led to direct feedback and very short development cycles that allow us to respond to market demands quickly.”
    —RBR, Greg Johnson, CEO

Export Challenges

  • “Identifying reputable and reliable partners to work within new foreign markets can be challenging.”
    —Waterplay Solutions, Jill White, CEO
  • “Sorting through the import customs and duty requirements, particularly into the US, has been a huge challenge.  We have addressed this by educating ourselves on the requirements and setting up the optimal business structure.”
    —Creative at Home, Rod Gray, CEO
  • “Credit risk is a huge exporting challenge. We mitigate this by using a variety of risk tools such as Dunn and Bradstreet and forius.com. In addition, we work closely with export development Canada to ensure as much of our accounts receivable as possible.”
    —Airstart, Robert Wills, CEO
  • “Our biggest challenge is that external markets are not aware of our company or services.”
    —LifeLearn, Randy Valpy, CEO