How to Write an Export Plan

Joseph A. Robinson | November 25, 2019 | Export Basics
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How to Write an Export Plan | Shipping SolutionsCompanies frequently ask me to provide a sample outline for producing an export plan. Small companies typically request the outline so they can establish an export department, whereas larger companies are either looking to expand their export promotion program or to use the outline in ISO 9000 procedures.

The following is a simple export plan outline that is a compilation of a dozen outlines that have come across my desk in the past 25 years. This outline is by no means inclusive; however, it covers many basic issues that should be addressed for the plan to be useful and implemented.

Sample Export Plan Outline

1.0  Table of Contents
2.0   Leadership Summary (Management Biography)
3.0.  Introduction: Why Do We Want to Export?
4.0   Mission Statement
5.0   Executive Policy Commitment Declaration
6.0   Company Analysis
6.1   Brief Company History
         6.2   Product Description and Beneficial Attributes
         6.3   Export Staff and Organization Chart
         6.4   Financial Resources Dedicated to the Export Department
         6.5   Non-Financial Resources Available to the Export Department
                  6.5.1   Allies – Banks; Freight Forwarders; etc.
                  6.5.2   Multipliers – Reps; Government Assistance; Trade Organizations; etc.
7.0   Procedures
         7.1   Documents and Paperwork
         7.2   Regulatory Compliance
8.0   Industry Analysis
         8.1   Describe the International Customer
                  8.1.1   Needs and Wants
                  8.1.2   Buying Patterns
         8.2   Explain Local Competition
         8.3   Explain Global Competition
9.0   Select Target-Rich Market(s)
         9.1   Focus Criteria
                  9.1.1   Top Three Countries
                  9.1.2   Secondary Countries
         9.2   Pricing Structure
         9.3   Distribution Channels
                  9.3.1   Define a Successful Rep/Distributor
                  9.3.2   Devise Rep/Distributor Agreement
                  9.3.3   Create Rep/Distributor Sales Agenda
                  9.3.4   Prepare Rep/Distributor Search/Appointment Strategy
         9.4   Sales Terms
10.0   Financial Goals
         10.1   Sales Forecast
         10.2   Expense Forecast
         10.3   Profit and Loss Forecast
         10.4   Export Operating Budget Statement
11.0  Timetable
         11.1   Export Plan Operations Calendar
         11.2   Project Milepost
         11.3   Follow-up and Review Points

The export plan should be treated as an ongoing dynamic document capable of being modified as new intelligence and market changes occur. You may find it beneficial to add, delete or modify the points in the above outline since each plan should be unique to the company that's creating it.

A well thought out and carefully written export plan ideally creates a basis for interacting with other departments of the company that are essential to the success and profitability of the export department. A good export plan also makes a strong statement to outsiders who can favorably impact the company by understanding its export goals and mission. This would, of course, include financial sources for providing funding to the export operations.

By creating and then implementing a strong export plan, your company will enhance its opportunity for success in the export arena and expanding further into global markets.


This article was first published in July 2002 and has been updated to include current information, links and formatting.

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