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Export Through a Gender Lens: Building Your Networks to Export

Serese Selanders is the CEO of ORA and SolusGuard.  Both companies export to the United States. 

Although my goal with export is to capture the North American market, I think it is also important to explore the possibility of further international export. For instance, I went on a trade mission to Japan with the Women’s Business Missions through the Asia Pacific Foundation to look for potential sales outside of North America. 

The idea of “I’m going to sell all over the world” is a great concept, but does it make sense for your business at this time? When looking to export in other continents, there is a process you have to go through to make sure you can sell your products. Otherwise, you may do more harm than good. 

Important questions to ask yourself before you start exporting your business: Is your business properly set up to support sales in other countries? Are you able to provide customer service and technical support? Can you work around time zones and language barriers? What is your overall growth plan and how does this fit? 

Networking and taking advantage of export programs helped me navigate through these questions. There are some great organizations that can assist, including Export Development Canada, trade missions, and federal government programs like the Trade Commissioner Service. They have programs and resources for funding, guidance, insight, and connections. Even if you are not ready to start exporting today, these organizations are here to give you the help you need to start planning for when you are ready.