It’s time to take stock of the year that is about to close and prepare the export strategies for 2019. What is the forecast for the markets where I am active? What new markets will I go explore? Which fairs will I participate in? Is it still worth doing fairs? These are some of the questions we must ask ourselves when building our development strategies for working abroad for the year that is about to begin.

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It is necessary to start from the constantly changing world stage. The fluctuating trend in the stock markets is the litmus test. Brexit, the US-China trade war, the ECB’s halt of the purchase of government bonds, the isolation of Iran, the tense political climate in many EU countries, the devaluation of the Turkish Lira, the evermore powerful e-commerce giants, etc. We must not be afraid but be aware that it is necessary to observe what is happening on the various markets; especially on those towards which we already export. But at the same time consider opportunities that are created on new markets.

My advice is to always listen carefully to our salespeople. Whether they are in-house, agents or distributors they are the ones with their ears to the ground in our market and who can catch the signs of change. Very often, however, there is distrust towards them; there are preconceived notions that they are always on the defensive, ready to justify their lack of achievement of the objectives. Forgetting that “selling” today is the most difficult task.

As for the markets on which we are not present, it is necessary to look at how our competitors are moving (especially the ones at the head of the class), remembering to use some of the many, and affordable, market analysis tools available to us.

Finally, the last piece of advice is to get used to writing down the decisions that are taken. It will be very useful in a year’s time, when we are evaluating the results that have been achieved, to go and see what decisions we had made. Otherwise the risk is not remembering the incorrect evaluations made at the start and therefore not improving the quality of the new forecasts and strategies. The development of a strategy is a difficult task when it’s the first time that it’s done; with time you learn from your mistakes and get better and better.

The mathematician John Allen Paulos said that “[u]ncertainty is the only certainty there is…”. One thing that is certain is that making predictions is increasingly difficult. But our companies must move ahead with clear export strategies. In summary, it is necessary: ​​to observe what is happening on the various markets, to make forecasts, to prepare the export strategies, and to review them at least once a year.

I talked about these themes in my post “THE BOOK: ‘EXPORTING IN 7 STEPS’” in bookshops from September 2018 and published by Guerini Next.