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Sample Export Plan

Sample export plan .

Completing an international business plan helps you to anticipate future goals, assemble facts, identify constraints and create an action statement. It should set forth specific objectives and implement a timetable and milestones. A strategy for entering or expanding into targeted markets is critical to your success in the global marketplace.   

Conduct an “audit” of your company to determine how exporting will impact your operations. Consider the management issues for exporting, approaches to exporting, distribution channels and other important considerations that will impact your business. 

Understand the key components of an effective, actionable export plan. Just as no two companies are alike, there is no one-size-fits-all export plan. Your export plan should be an extension of your overall business plan, if not infused completely into your business plan. Many of the same questions for your international sales strategies will apply to your domestic sales plan. 

Have a clear idea of the information you need to collect and sources where you might find that information.  

Creating an international export plan is important for defining your company’s present status and internal goals and commitment. It is also required if you plan to seek export financing assistance. Prepare a plan prior to requesting bank loans. This can save both time and money.  

Sample Outline of an Export Plan 

Part I: Export Policy Commitment Statement    

Part II: Situation or Background Analysis 

Product/Service for Export 

Export License (if needed) 

Personal Export Organization 

Products/Services to be Exported 

Products that Qualify Under FTAs 

Resources Outside the Company 

Industry Structure, Competition, Demand Operations 

Export Control Compliance 

Product Classifications 

Resources Inside the Company 

​​  Part III: Marketing Component 

​Identifying, Evaluating, and Selecting Markets 

Product Selection and Pricing 

Distribution Methods                                             

Internal Organization and Procedures 

Sales Goals (Profit and Loss Forecasts)                

Terms and Conditions 

Pricing with Consideration of Duties, Taxes   

Freight Costs, and Logistics Included  

  Part IV: Tactics—Action Steps 

Primary Target Countries 

Indirect Marketing Efforts 

Quarterly Accomplishments 

Secondary Target Countries  

​  Part V: Export Budget 

Pro-forma Financial Statements     

Marketing Materials 


Website Enhancements 

Trade Show Visits 

Other Costs 

​  Part VI: Implementation Schedule 

Periodic Operational and Management Review (Measuring Results against the Plan) 

  Addenda: Background Data on Target 

Basic Market Statistics (Historical and Projected) 

Background Facts 

Competitive Environment 

Global Negotiator Blog

What is an export business plan.

Posted by: Olegario Llamazares on 15 September, 2020 in International Trade Comments Off on What is an export business plan?

The purpose of the Export Business Plan is to prepare companies, specially middle and small, to enter the international marketplace or to better organize their existing international business activity. The Plan will serve as a step-by-step guide to lead the company through the process of exporting products and services to international markets. The purpose of the Plan is to address the main issues that arise in the development and implementation of international marketing strategy:

The Export Business Plan is divided into six sections following a time sequence.  Each section helps to plan international business strategies and take effective export decisions. The Plan provides worksheets with corresponding explanatory notes so that the user  does not have difficulty developing and completing the Plan. It also offers a case study that is used as an example to apply the methodology. Below we develop briefly the contents of an Export Business Plan in six sections. Complete information on the Export Business Plan methodology with worksheets, explanatory texts and case study can be found on the link Export Business Plan.



In order to make the most of your company’s strengths and improve your weaknesses, the internationalisation plan begins with an analysis of the competitive capacities of the company in relation to the foreign markets in order to achieve profit maximisation. The Export Business Plan analysis leads to an identification of the economic, policies and social trends etc, which may affect the international evolution of the sector where the company plans to develop its activity. Once the principal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are identified you must extract some conclusions and at the same time decide which actions you wish to proceed successfully in the foreign markets. These conclusions are double-sided: business strategy and resources.


Before initiating the process of market selection, the company should decide whether a concentration or a diversification strategy is better to approach the foreign markets:

In the first pre-selection of the markets, it is not suitable to just consider the individual countries. It is advisable to consider them in groups or combinations of countries. Following the initial filter, you should select areas or markets which complete the basic criteria and these countries will subsequently be analysed in depth. It is not about selecting the most favourable countries; the most important is to eliminate those countries which do not comply with the basic criteria. Once that most favorable geographic areas, have been chosen, the next step is to select countries belonging to those geographic areas. Finally, it comes to selecting target countries for the following stages of the Plan (Stage 3: Marker Entry Methods and Stage 4: International Offer).

Export Business Plan Methodology


The entry form chosen for foreign markets will be a critical decision in the Export Plan. The main alternatives to market products abroad are:

Once the form of entry is chosen it is advisable to develop the company´s profile –even if you have final clients, intermediaries or partners– through those you will efficiently penetrate the market. The aspects that must be defined in this role are the following: Size of the company; business culture; product range; solvency; international experience; and commercial practices.


At this section of the Plan it comes to choosing products or services offered by the company, mainly those that have more export capacity. Companies who have a very wide range of products should not select products but strategic units that will consist of products that have the same characteristics. With regards to the product´s policy it is advisable to define the characteristics of each one of their attributes and the necessary adaptations for its sale in foreign markets. There exist two alternatives:

In this section it should also be designed a pricing strategy for the products in the target countries.


Section 5 starts verifying if the brand which the company uses in the domestic market adapts appropriately to the foreign markets or if it is advisable to create a new brand. The tools required to promote the product in foreign markets are basically the same tools employed in the domestic market. You can classify them into two groups: promotion tools and publicity tools. Between the first ones you can choose advertising as a means of communication and publicity through the internet while the promotion includes the elaboration of the documentation and promotional videos, the assistance to trade fairs, promotion at the point of sale etc. The activities of communication imply some necessarily some financial resources which should not be considered as an expense but as an investment. The SME with export vocation, no matter how small the company may be, it should dedicate some amount of the budget to promote their products in foreign markets.


The evaluation of the success of the Export Business Plan should be done in relation to certain objectives, between them, target sales are the most common. In the international activity these objectives should be accomplished at least with regards to the following three requirements:

The international operating account is the instrument that gathers, in a provisional form, the costs and economic contributions of the contemplated actions in the plan. This determines the cost to evaluate, the cost of implantation of the plan and the expected economic output (commercial margin and operating balance). The concepts included in this account are:

In conclusion, planning is essential for any business. Before venturing into international markets companies have to draft an Export Business Plan as this document will help them set their goals, effectively allocate their resources and determine which countries offer the most potential for their products as well as how to reach the clients and how to make competitive offers.

what is the export business plan

what is the export business plan

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3 Types of Export Business Plans

what is the export business plan

Now you’re ready to get organized and create your own plan. To keep the process manageable, let’s look at three different types of sample template plans, each with distinct advantages for business people with different needs. Pick the one that works best for you, keeping in mind that you can shorten the analysis while keeping the major components of the plan intact.

The Back-of-the-Napkin Export Business Plan

The back-of-the-napkin export business plan is for folks who are big on ideas and pressed for time and want to get to market fast. While it’s typically short and sweet, it serves a better purpose than having no export business plan at all. A back-of-the-napkin export business plan can be as simple as explaining what the business does, what you want to do next export-wise, and how you are going to get there (who is going to be on board). It might look like this:

Add a Web site link to show what the business does and provide an executive summary that includes the founder’s bio and the key team members, and you’re done.

The Traditional Export Business Plan

It’s important to have a business plan, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to create one. One place to visit and bookmark online is the Small Business Administration’s “ Export Business Planner ”. It is a free, customizable tool for small-business owners who are exploring exporting. When you are using the planner, you can refer to Getting Started: Creating an Export Business Plan. It outlines the following (in Chapter 12, we guide you on market research so don’t overly challenge yourself if you can’t answer all the questions at the initial planning stage):

1. Profiling Your Current Business

2. Conducting an Industry Analysis

3. Identifying Products with Export Potential

4. Marketability: Matching Your Product/Service with a Global Trend or Need

5. Determining Market Expansion Benefits/Trade-Offs

6. Identifying Markets to Pursue

7. Conducting an Export Marketing and Sales Analysis

Short-and Long-Term Goals

In summary, the most difficult aspect in developing an export business plan is determining the demand for a product or service offering in a foreign country. It’s one thing to know a product can be sold in a market—after all, that’s why you selected a particular market—but it is a totally different ballgame when it comes to forecasting how much you can sell and over what time frame. Assume that the demand for a product develops in direct proportion to the economic development in each country. This might be a useful way to think about it, especially when data might be unknown.

Next Week’s Extract

Did you enjoy the extract? Next week we’ll be running the final extract from Laurel’s book. Make sure to check back in if you’re interested. If next week is too long to wait and you want to bulk of the substance ASAP, Laurel Delaney’s book is available for purchase on Amazon , Barnes & Noble and Apress .

AvatarLaurel Delaney

Laurel Delaney


Laurel J. Delaney is founder and president of Chicago-based , a management consulting company that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses go global. She is the publisher of The Global Small Business Blog , which is ranked No. 1 in the world for entrepreneurs and small businesses interested in going global and the author of “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably,” published by Apress , 2013.

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Step-by-step guide to exporting – step 3 – charting your route: developing your export plan.

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It is critical to understand your target market abroad and the major focus of your business before you enter the international marketplace. – Export Award Winner

Contact your industry association to find names of successful exporters who can provide you with practical advice.  BDC  and the  Canada Business Network  are two sources for advice.

Table of Contents

3.1 why plan, 3.2 foundation: your business plan, 3.3 building on the foundation: your export plan.

If you plan your export project thoroughly, you'll have a better chance of doing well in your target market. Bad planning (or no planning) can lead to major failure abroad and could severely damage your domestic operations as well.

Financial institutions and other lending agencies will not normally provide funds to a business that lacks a well-developed export plan. In addition, potential partners and investors will want to see exactly how you plan to achieve your objectives.

In short, you'll get nowhere without an export plan. This chapter will help you create one.

Export myth: Exporting is too complicated for my company to undertake

Remember, you don't have to do everything yourself. Outside experts can represent you, find overseas customers, manage sales orders, handle paperwork and deliver the goods.

A good export plan begins at home. Now is the time to  review and renew your business plan  if it is out of date. If you don't have one, this is definitely the time to create one.

Once you've polished up your business plan, you can start creating your export plan. This step isn't something you'll finish in a week. Even after you've begun exporting, you'll need to update it regularly.

An export plan is a business plan that focuses on international markets. It identifies your target market(s), export goals, necessary resources and anticipated results.

Your export plan should contain the following:

Get Ready to Export: My Export Plan My Export Plan

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[Download Video 21MB] Quick Links:    Back to First Video in Set | Get Ready to Export Video Set  | How to Export Video Series     | Subscribe to our   Email Updates and Tips .

Developing an Export Plan

The purpose of an export plan is to assemble facts, constraints, and goals, and to create an action statement that takes these elements into account. The plan includes specific objectives, sets forth time schedules for implementation, and marks milestones so that the degree of success can be measured and can motivate personnel.  

Export Plan Tips

The Value of an Export Plan

Length of the Export Plan

Product or service.

Pricing Considerations

Management Issues

Management and Personnel

Production Capacity

Financial Capacity

Sample Outline of an Export Plan

Part i: export policy commitment statement   , part ii: situation or background analysis.

​ ​ Part III: Marketing Component

Part IV: Tactics—Action Steps

​ Part V: Export Budget

​ Part VI: Implementation Schedule

Addenda: Background Data on Target

Get Ready to Export: My Export Plan

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Home » How to Write a Business Plan for Your Import-Export Business

How to Write a Business Plan for Your Import-Export Business

what is the export business plan

January 20, 2021

The world is more interconnected than it’s ever been. This provides a perfect opportunity for you to create your own import-export business. Whether it’s importing beautiful textiles from another continent or exporting local Canadian products abroad, all you need is passion and drive to get started.

You probably have plenty of ideas swirling around in your head, but the only way to make your business a reality and ensure your success is to write a winning business plan. Business plans are notoriously long and complex but don’t be disheartened. Here are 6 steps to writing the perfect business plan for your import-export company:

1. Start with an Executive Summary.

Think of this as the ultimate introduction to your business. It should concisely delineate exactly what you want as a business owner. Remember, you need to know where your business is going. It’s up to you to clarify your vision. No one is going to be as passionate about your import-export storefront as you are.

Your executive summary should have:

Keep it short and sweet. Ideally, your executive summary will be no more than half a page. The rest of your business plan is where you’ll go into greater detail about these components.

It might be helpful to go through How to Start an Import Export Business before you create your executive summary to ensure everything is carefully thought out before you present it in your business plan.

what is the export business plan

2. Include a Business Description.

This is your opportunity to describe exactly what you’re importing or exporting and how it will succeed. Are you importing Congolese avocados? Show how you can guarantee perfect ripeness when they reach stores. Are you exporting blenders to Bolivia? Demonstrate you’ve found the perfect blender to suit the demand of that market.

Here are some questions to consider and incorporate:

Don’t forget insurance. Investors and lenders need to see you’re responsible and won’t lose money from major oversights. You might think skipping product insurance will help you make more money, but this is a huge mistake in the long run. Find a premium insurance company and include that information in your business description.

3. Conduct a Market Analysis.

Roll up your sleeves—this part takes a lot of effort. If you put the work in and do  the research, it will pay off. The point of your market analysis is to demonstrate your knowledge of the market and your ability to claim a significant share of it. 

A great market analysis can look like this:

Factor in exchange rates. As you’re figuring out your price, be sure to include  exchange rates in your calculations. Neglecting this could sink your business. You might want to consider using the local currency of the country you’re working with, especially if they use an international currency such as euros or US dollars. Are you planning on exporting to the EU? Don’t miss this helpful guide .

what is the export business plan

4. Summarize a Competitive Analysis.

Not quite the same as your market analysis, your competitive analysis focuses mainly on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Planning to import Italian cars? Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. What options do they have for purchasing an Italian car? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each option?

After you make a list of all your potential competitors, you’ll want to organize all the information in a competitive strength grid, which outlines which competitors are strong in each skill category and which ones are weak (e.g. price, product quality).

Lastly, you’ll need to clearly define your competitive advantage. Do you have a  lower price point? Are your cars of better quality? Do you have a more solid advertising plan? Can you break into a new market? 

Your price equates to your product’s value. If you price your product too far below your competitors, it may cheapen your product in the eyes of consumers. There’s nothing wrong with trying to outpace your competitors in pricing, but make sure you don’t overdo it and cause your customers to overlook your product due to a lower perceived quality.

5. Create a Design & Development Plan.

This is where you focus on details, details, details. How are you going to make your business a reality? Now is your opportunity to get it all on paper.

Here are some questions to answer in this section:

If you’ve left any of these questions unanswered, you’ll need to add more details.

Don’t go it alone. You might prefer to do everything on your own, but that will only leave you overworked and exhausted. There are so many specifics in the import-export world that you can easily get overwhelmed. Do yourself a favor and hire a team to help.

Are you planning on selling your product on Amazon? Check out these useful logistical tips .

what is the export business plan

6. Don’t Forget the Financial Data.

When it comes down to it, this is what investors really want to see. This is how  they’ll determine whether your business – anything from exporting dresses to importing sailboats – will succeed or not.

You’ll need to include three statements in the financial section:

Let your words be few. You should include a short analysis statement after the income statement, but resist the temptation to ramble. The idea is to let the financial statements in this portion speak for themselves.

Once you’ve finished your business plan, send it out to investors and lenders you’ve already established a connection with. Make big asks—you never know who might say yes! With an excellent import export business plan at your disposal, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful business owner.

BorderBuddy creates importing and exporting solutions for any size of business. We specialize in smoothing the process for you—handling the paperwork and logistics so you can focus on growing your company. We love supporting small businesses and are proud of the success stories we’ve been a part of. Give us a call and let us help you create a unique and sustainable import-export business today.

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There are several reasons prompting a firm to sell its products in the international market. It is not difficult, but as most things in business, it requires adequate preparation and training. Although creating an export business plan does not in itself guarantee success, it minimizes risks and optimizes operational efficency.


Published by ConnectAmericas

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What is an export plan?

An export business plan is a useful tool that allows businessmen to know where they stand in regard to external markets. It serves as a tool for previously analyzing the risks that may be encountered and for establishing a specific contingency plan in this regard. It is also useful for learning more about the final markets and for preparing an export strategy, or for improving relations with suppliers, sales agents or financial entities.

An export plan has no predetermined structure since it varies depending on the particular products, services and features of each SME (small and medium-sized enterprise). A report by the International Export Business Plan of ProMéxico affirms that, “an export business plan seeks to systematically penetrate a product or service in the international market to maximize efficiency and profitability.” 

In other words, the continuity of exports at lower costs and higher earnings to optimize the business. The export business plan is just an organized way of recording the exports sought, where to, how, and the resources that are available.

Succesful export plans should include the following:

Description of the business

It is essential to include detailed information on the firm. In particular, a description of its capacity, experience and abilities to implement the project. Con Tu Negocio also advises defining the strengths and weaknesses of the firm. It is also necessary to include long and short-term objectives, any former export business plan, the final market insertion strategy, and the description of the product or service.

This last point should also include tariff classifications, consumer and market descriptions, main competitive products, technologies, quality standards, product adjustments, costs, prices, and research and development of new products.

Market Analysis

All export plans must include desired exporting destination and the main features of that market. This entails political, legal, economic, social and cultural aspects. According to ProMéxico it is important to include “a description of the industry in the export market, analysis of the competition, market segmentation, and tariff barriers.”

Human Resources

In PromPerú's publication “Preparing an Export Plan”, Paredes Bullón considers worthy to “include the human capital available at the firm for the export project” in addition to all information related with international trade experience and skills and the organization structure of the firm and of its international department. Furthermore, it is important to specify whether the firm has any external international trade advisors or strategic alliances.

Operational Phase

According to ProMéxico this is the core of the export plan. This section defines the market penetration strategy towards the target market, compatible with the fimr's long-term objectives. It should state that the operation is feasible from an administrative, technical, financial, and commercial point of view. It must also include everything related to the international aspects of the operation and production. Elements to be taken into account:

-Export price -International logistics -Formal requirements to export/import -Tariff and non-tariff barriers -Quotes (INCOTERMS) -Contracts, forms of payment, negotiations -Containers/wrappings -Insurance -Advertisements -Distribution -Market development activities -Contacts abroad

-Raw materials -Quality and standards -Capacity  -Installations -Localization -Manpower -Subcontracting -Suppliers -Technology -Inventories

Risk Analysis

According to PromPerú, an important aspect of the export plan is “to identify potential problems that might have a negative impact on the project.” It is also necessary to specify the contingency plans to counter same. One of the easiest ways to mitigate risks is to take out export credit insurance to cover credit sales in the international market (exports under credit conditions). Firms providing these services point out that generally insurance protects exporters from the following risks:

Financial Projections

Con Tu Negocio specifies that many SME’s lack adequate financial projections that are necessary for preparing solid export plans. In this regard, entrepreneurs should record: the resources available to complete the export project, historical financial information, cash flow, financial statements and key financial information on liquidity, activity and profitability.

This is a summary of the export plan. Its purpose is to concisely depict the current status of the firm and the plans for the new operation. According to Con Tu Negocio , it must include the profile of the firm, a precise description of its business, an explanation of the product or service offered, the competitive advantages and financial requirements.

Creating an adequate export plan will not only help SMEs from a commercial standpoint but it will enable self-evaluation and generate greater participation in, and awareness of, the operation. As with any management tool, the plan must be flexible and adaptable and must be review as business progresses.


Compañía de Seguros de Crédito Continental. Tipos de seguros de crédito. Compañía de Seguros de Crédito Continental SA, 2013

Ortiz, Rafael. Claves para desarrollar un plan estratégico en una pyme. 9 August 2012. Con tu negocio, Movistar, 2012

PromPeru. Paredes Bullón, David. Elaboración del plan de Negocio de exportación. PromPeru, 2013

ProMexico. Plan de Negocios Internacional de Exportación. ProMexico, 2010

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Import Export Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

import export business plan template

Import-Export Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their import-export businesses. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through an import-export business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your import-export business as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start an import-export business, or grow your existing business, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your import-export business in order to improve your chances of success. Your import-export business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.

Sources of Funding for Import-Export Businesses

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for an import-export business are personal savings, credit cards, bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the lender will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Personal savings and bank loans are the most common funding paths for social media marketing businesses.

How to Write a Business Plan For an Import-Export Company

If you want to start an import-export business or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below are links to each section of your import-export business plan template:

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of import-export business you are operating and its status. For example, are you a startup, do you have an import-export business that you would like to grow, or are you operating import-export companies in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your plan. For example, give a brief overview of the import-export industry. Discuss the type of import-export business you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target market. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of import-export business you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of import-export companies:

In addition to explaining the type of import-export business you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the import-export industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the import-export industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your import-export business plan:

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your import-export business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of import-export business you operate. Clearly, individuals looking to purchase coffee beans online would respond to different marketing promotions than mobile phone manufacturers, for example.

Try to break out your target market in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve. Because most import-export companies primarily serve customers living in their same city or town, such demographic information is easy to find on government websites.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other import-export companies.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes manufacturers with vertically integrated distribution operations, or consumers who prefer to purchase similar products made domestically.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other import-export companies with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be import-export businesses located very close to your location.

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For an import-export business plan, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of import-export company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to mobile phones, will your import-export business offer other consumer electronics such as laptops or wireless headphones?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location through which you will sell your imported/exported goods. For example, will you distribute your goods directly to consumers online, or will you maintain supply contracts with retailers and wholesalers? In this section, document each method by which you will sell your products.

Promotions : The final part of your import-export marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your business. The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your import-export business, including determining which products are needed, sourcing product manufacturers, securing and maintaining all necessary licenses and permits, arranging logistics, etc.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to sign your 100 th supply contract, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your import-export business to a new market.

Management Team

To demonstrate your import-export business’ ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing import-export companies. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in logistics, or successfully running small businesses.

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement

An income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you import from one country, or will you operate globally? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets

Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your import-export business, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement

Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing an import-export business:

business costs

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your warehouse lease, or contracts with manufacturers and distributors.

Putting together a business plan for your import-export business is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the import-export industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful import-export business.

Import Export Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my import export business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Import Export Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of import export business you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have an import export business that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of import export businesses?

Don’t you wish there was a faster, easier way to finish your Import Export business plan?

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

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