So you run a viable business currently and you’ve completed an export readiness assessment which shows that you are ready for exports. What’s next?

Well, the next really important step is to get your management’s written commitment to export. However, before you do this, you need to prepare a broad export mission statement that outlines in very general terms what you plan to do in respect of exports. This is an interim measure until you have formulated a formal export plan (see step 8 in the export process). The objective of this broad mission statement is to get you to the point where you can complete and present the export plan, as well as to ensure buy-in from management for your export endeavours and for them to approve an interim export budget that will allow you to do the research required to gather the information that you will need to prepare the formal export plan.

But I’m a small one-person firm – do I need to do this

Just because you are a small firm should not prevent you from putting down on paper your export vision for your firm or from estimating the amount of money you will need to do the research for your export plan. Just by formalising your thoughts – by jotting them down on paper – makes you think about them and may also be useful at a later stage as a reference to see what you had in mind and whether you have achieved your objectives. It’s all about planning, preparing and good management!

What should the broad mission statement say?

Of course, your broad mission statement will be unique to your firm and the sector that you are involved in. Nevertheless, the mission statement should:

  • Confirm that you are serious about exports
  • Indicate your reasons for wanting to export (these reasons for exporting essentially serve as your interim export objectives and they will be revised later once you have done your research and are busy preparing your export plan)
  • Indicate what your next major deliverable(s) will be
  • Indicate when your hope to complete these tasks
  • Indicate how much money you will need to achieve these tasks

Bear in mind that this statement is an interim statement. It is intended to see you through the first number of steps in the export process until such time as you have done the research you require to gather the information you need for your export plan. The export plan will be the major formal document that spells out your export objectives, your export budget and your intended export strategy. Once you have put forward your export plan, this broad mission statement will fall away and will be replaced by your firm’s export objectives as stated in the export plan! Management will, of course, also have to approve the export plan, but that’s another story.

Show me an example of a broad export mission statement

To illustrate what we mean, we have included a broad export mission statement for a fictitious company:

The management of Tarik Fish Exporters (Pty) Ltd believes that the export market represents real expansion opportunities for the firm. Management feel that by expanding into exports the firm will be able to:
increase sales
reduce the risk we encounter due to seasonal sales of our traditional products
[ These two statements are your interim export objectives].As a next step in the export process, research will be undertaken to determine the extent of opportunity that exists in the export markets and to identify countries, markets and potential customers to focus on. This research will be used to formulate an export plan incorporating export objectives, an export marketing strategy, an export budget and an implementation schedule. The three month timeframe (i.e. 31 March) is thought to be adequate to undertake the research and to complete the export plan. The estimated budget required to undertake the research and to complete the export plan is R55 000 [a breakdown of this budget would be attached].To realise the firm’s export aspirations, it is essential to obtain the board’s approval. It would be appreciated if the would deem it acceptable to approve this initial mission statement and budget and to commit to the proposed export vision!Signed by:__________ (Export manager)MD’s approval:____________

Of course, if you are also the owner of the firm and the person responsible for exports, you don’t have to sign twice 😉

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