You need to set money aside for research

It is difficult to provide an exact guide as to what should be included in the export research budget as every company is different; companies are of different sizes, have different resources and have different objectives. Nevertheless, you need to set aside money for both your desk research and your in-market research activities. Do not think you can avoid the money issue; it will impact on your research efforts and this, in turn, will impact on your export activities and ultimate success. If you cannot afford the research, leave your export endeavours for later when you can afford it!

Budgeting for desk research

As far as the desk research is concerned, you need to budget for the time involved in doing the information gathering, as well as paying for any sources of information that you believe will be necessary for your research (e.g. newspapers, directories, trade magazines, commercial databases, etc.). Desk research should not prove too costly. For the small exporter, you may want to do your research after hours at home or perhaps on the weekend so as not to impact on your work time. The Internet has made desk research a lot easier and you can gather a lot more useful information today then you could have a decade ago. Indeed, most of your research and information needs can probably be met by using the Internet.

Budgeting for in-market research

You will also need to budget for all of your in-market research efforts which might involve a trip or two abroad to visit selected markets, the cost of participating in a trade fair/exhibition if this is appropriate, the cost of any research report you may commission from a research agency, etc. Once again, you will need to take into account the cost of the time involved in doing this research. Do not think that you can do the research based on desk research alone; it will be necessary to visit your target market at least once. There is information that simply will not get from the Internet and jsut visiting the market and seeing how thinks work in the marketplace, will give you valuable insight that will contribute to your ultimate success.

Budgeting to analyse and report on your research

It is essentially to compile the information you gather through your research efforts into a formal report. Just commiting it to your memory is not enough. The information becomes clouded and you inevitably see what you want to see. By writing it down, you force yourself to think about and interpret the information and it becomes much easier to link the research to your eventual export strategy. You will need to budget for the cost of analysing and reporting on the information you have gathered. Someone has to take responsibility for this task and this will need to be included in your research budget. Remember that research is an ongoing task and so you may need to include research expenses beyond just the initial research that you plan to do at the start of your export endeavours.